Explore Japanese Dolls at The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

Japanese Dolls: From Showa to Heisei and Reiwa Eras

Thursday, June 17 through Wednesday, July 28
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 17 from 7:00 p.m. until 7:50 p.m.

The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

Admission: Free

Although dolls are children’s toys, they also fulfill shared ethnicity, cultural customs, and history. Dolls have evolved and changed over time, and those used for religious rituals and festivals gradually came to be passed on to children as their playthings.

The Nippon Club’s upcoming exhibition displays dolls that were popular primarily among children in the early Showa to Reiwa eras. Organized by generation, each doll will have background information related to its corresponding period. Included in the exhibition is the “Blue-eyed Doll” (Friendship Doll) presented to Japan as a gift from the United States in 1927. Together with the Japanese Friendship Doll as a return gift, it introduces the history of friendship between the two countries by exchanging dolls.

During the exhibition, The Nippon Club will post a quiz in the WEB gallery, and five people will receive a Licca-chan doll, similar to the Barbie of Japan.

French Doll
French dolls in ball-style dresses gained popularity in Japan during the 1950s and ‘60s. It was a symbol of a wealthy life in the era of rapid economic growth.
4th Generation Licca-chan “I love you, Licca” 1987〜
Licca-chan is an indispensable doll in the history of toys from the Showa era to the Heisei era. Several cities throughout Japan celebrated the doll’s 50th anniversary with a national traveling exhibition that three generations of fans visited.

Virtual Opening Reception

Thursday, June 17 from 7:00 p.m. until 7:50 p.m.

Online via Zoom. Attendance limited to 500 people.

Admission: Free, but donations in support of The Nippon Club’s bento project for healthcare workers will be gratefully accepted

Toyohiko Sato, Chairman of the Japan Toy Culture Foundation, will talk about Japanese dolls from Showa to Reiwa Eras followed by a mini Bunraku performance and commentary. Along with Kabuki and Noh, Bunraku is known as a traditional Japanese performing art. A puppetry tradition that has continued for more than 300 years, Bunraku is characterized by the sophisticated techniques required to simulate realistic movement in the puppets and tell classical stories.

Kanya Yoshida, who won the National Bunraku Theatre’s Grand Prize last year, will talk about its profound charm. The Bunraku mini performance is held in cooperation with Sakae-Ku, Yokohama City.

The event will be held in Japanese, but The Nippon Club will provide real-time subtitles in English through Wordly.

To register for the Virtual Opening Reception, please click here.

Toyohiko Sato (left), Chairman of the Japan Toy Culture Foundation, and Bunraku puppet master Kanya Yoshida

About Toyohiko Sato

As Chairman of the Japan Toy Culture Foundation, Toyohiko Sato has organized exhibitions for toys and dolls in Japan. In 2016, he also managed the very first exhibition of Licca-chan in the world, “Licca Symbol of Kawaii,” in Paris. The following year, he coordinated the traveling exhibition celebrating Licca-chan’s 50th anniversary held in many cities throughout Japan.

About Kanya Yoshida

At the age of 19, Kanya Yoshida enrolled at the National Theatre for Bunraku and has been an accomplished Bunraku puppet master for more than 40 years. In 1986, he served an apprenticeship with the third generation Minosuke Yoshida and took his surname. He has received various awards, including the Grand Prize of the 40th National Theater Bunraku.

For more information about Japanese Dolls: From Showa to Heisei and Reiwa Eras, please visit The Nippon Club’s website.