Japan: Kanagawa/ Yokohama Doll Museum

The city of Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo.  Located less than half an hour south of Tokyo by train, it is a great destination for those looking for a great day trip away from Tokyo.  The city has numerous gardens, parks, museums and amusement parks to choose from, therefore you will certainly find something to please even the most finicky among your travel group.  The Yokohama Doll Museum, for instance, is a wonderful site seeing spot and a timeless place that brings together people of all ages.

The Museum is one of the largest doll museums in Japan with 1,300 rare dolls from 140 countries on display. It introduces visitors to the doll making method and offers them the opportunity to actually see and touch the various tools and materials used in the process. Not only are visitors introduced to the craftsmanship of Japanese doll making but the craftsmanship of Western doll making is also compared and contrasted, offering an interesting perspective into the various regional techniques, etc.

The dolls come in all shapes, sizes and materials. You will find dolls on display representing various celebrities, sportsman and politicians as well as traditional Japanese dolls and dolls from countries like New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Spain and so much more. The Japanese dolls are categorized into dolls used for prayer, play and for display. There is a nice collection of Ichimatsu Ningyo, Japanese antique dolls dressed in spectacular kimonos that became significant pieces presented as wedding gifts during the early 20th century.  In 1927, fifty-eight of these dolls were sent to the United States as gestures of good will during the Friendship Doll Exchange campaign.

Each year with the coming of spring, the museum brings out its hina dolls in celebration of Hinamatsuri. Hinamatsuri otherwise known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day is celebrated on March 3rd and involves an elaborate display of dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period all arranged on tiered platforms.

The museum is constantly updating their doll collection and organizes various temporary exhibits throughout the year, therefore there is something new and different to see with each visit. When you are done viewing the various dolls on display, make your way to the puppet show theater or grab a bite to eat at the café.

The museum is open daily between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:30 PM. (Closed on Mondays, year end and New Year holidays.) The entrance fee for adults is ¥400 and ¥200 for children.

Location:             18 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi 231-0023

Web page:           http://www.doll-museum.jp/

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