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Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Toys & Entertainment
Name Kishu Bina : Kishu Dolls

Main Production Site:Wakayama

(Kishu is the old name of Wakayama Prefecture, West Japan. "Bina" or "Hina", which means a doll in Japanese, is displayed in houses to celebrate Girls' Festival on the 3rd of March every year)

According to a certain legend, the origin of "Kishu Bina" is very old, dating back to 5th Century . But the current style of lacquered Kishu Bina emerged in the early Showa period (20c). Since then, dolls have been handmade using traditional local technique of lacquering, known as "Kishu Laquer ware" or "Kuroe Lacquer ware", and the traditional lacquering technique has been handed down by the craftsmen until today.

It is only domestic natural wood that is used for the base of dolls. And traditional coating technique of Kishu Lacquer Ware ,and gold or silver lacquering (called "Makie") etc. are applied on it. The palm-sized ball-shaped wooden base is covered with red and blue lacquer before doll's face and kimono are drawn by hands using Makie techniques.

The dolls are made in various shapes and sizes, other than ball-shaped ones. For example, Kokeshi-type dolls are taller than the ball-shaped dolls and have cylindrical shapes. The wide variety of Kishu Bina is one of the attractive points when selecting souvenirs or gifts.

[Wakayama Prefecture designated traditional artcraft]

Source of information and photo: Kishu Lacquerware Cooporative
Translation reviewed by Naoko Yamashita

Materials Domestic Natural Wood (Japanese lacquer tree)
Crafting Processes Each process of manufacturing Kishu Bina is taken care by a professional craftsman as a division work with his specialized-skill.

[1] Shaping
Kiji-shi, (a craftsman in charge of making wooden base), shapes dolls by carving wooden base. All Kishu Bina dolls are made from domestic trees.

[2] Undercoating
Shitaji-shi, (a craftsman in charge of undercoating process before lacquering,) undercoats the dolls with a brush using some kinds of base coat materials, such as "Shibu" (astringent), "Urushi" (lacquer), "Nikawa" (gelatin). Those materials are applied on the wooden base according to the particular purposes, such as trimming or mending the shape.

[3] Lacquering
Nuri-shi, (a craftsman in charge of lacquering process), applies lacquer to the undercoated dolls one by one with brushes and spatulas. By this process, the body becomes hard and durable. There are 3 steps in lacquering process; "Shita-nuri"(1st lacquering), "Naka-nuri"(2nd lacquering), and "Uwa-nuri"(3rd lacquering). Each step is essential for perfect finish of the dolls.

[4] Painting
Makie-shi, (a painter in charge of drawing ), draws pictures and designs on the lacquered dolls with brushes. Colors are not painted at a time, but are divided and painted separately day by day. The next painting is not done until the previous painting is dried. Therefore, sometimes it takes more than two months until all the colors are painted.
History The history of "Kishu Bina" has a long history. According to the legend, Empress Jingu (a mythical Japanese Empress Consort, Jingu who is said to have lived in the time of A.D. 450) visited the country of Kishu (current Wakayama Prefecture), where she met Sukuna-hikona-no-mikoto, one of Japanese mythical gods. She was so impressed by the beauty and the gracefulness of Sukuna-hiko that she tried to recreate his image in a small doll, which was the beginning of Kishu-bina.

But in the 5th century, Emperor Nintoku (the 16th Emperor of Japan) ordered to create an image of Empress Jingu after he visited Kishu (current Wakayama prefecture). This is believed to be the origin of current Kishu-bina. Later on, in Edo period (17-19c), Yorinobu Tokugawa (the 10th son of Ieyasu Tokugawa known as "Kishu Ko", Aristocrat of Kishu, the founder of Kishu Tokugawa family) dedicated Kishu Bina when he made a visit to Nakagoto Jinja shrine in Kuroe district which was famous for lacquer ware industry.

The tradition of Kishu Bina had been halted for a long time until it revived in early Showa period (20c) in Kuroe district of Kainan City. Today, Kishu Bina dolls are presented as gifts on the occasion of Momo no Sekku, Girl's Festival on 3rd of March. The compact size and the authentic lacquer work of the dolls match to various life styles for decoration. Kishu bina doll is one of the representative souvenirs of Wakayama prefecture.

◆Exhibition / Showcase
Uruwashi Museum (Kishu Lacquer Ware Traditional Industrial Hall)
222, Funao, Kainan City, Wakayama Prefecture, zip code 642-0001
Tel: +81-(0)73-482-0322 (Japanese only)
Opening hours : 10:00 - 16:30
Closed : 2nd Sunday, O-bon period (summer religious days), The year-end and New Year Holidays
Admission : Free

Kuroe Nurimono Kan (Koroe Lacqure Museum)
680, Kuroe, Kainan City, Wakayama Prefecture, zip code 642-0011
Tel: +81-(0)73-482-5321 (Japanese only)
Open : 10:00 - 16:00
Close : Monday and Tuesday

◆Event Information
Kishu Kainan Hina Meguri (Hina dolls tour around the city of Nankai, Kishu)
Date : Mid-February to Mid-March every year
Place : Kainan City, Wakayama Prefecture

This is an event everybody can enjoy Kishu Hina Dolls exhibition while walking around Kainan city.
Please refer to the official blog of "Kishu Kainan Hina Meguri" for more information.
URL: Kishu Kainan Hina Meguri

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