When I looked into the small house, only 30 meters high, I was transported back to the Japan of the late 1950s through the early 1960s.
When I moved the sliding door slightly, I could see a sink made of an artificial stone.
When I opened the refrigerator, there was a tiny ice-cube tray with 2-milimeter square holes.
"I did not even know the word 'dollhouse,' " said Hidefumi Shimaki, a 60-year-old architect, recalling the first days of making replica houses.
Shimaki said his creations started by chance in spring 2005, from an exchange of business cards.
"I came to this point thanks to human connections," he said.
He created his debut miniature work 13 years ago, when his wife, Keiko, suggested she would like to sell his work?furniture and animals on a 1:10 scale in a frame?at a shop she operated. He used toys and other materials sold at 100-yen ($1.27) shops for his miniature houses.
His creations, priced around several thousand yen each, were popular and sold quickly.
He got hooked on his newly found pastime and undertook other works on 1:20 and 1:24 scales, and even smaller.
He recreated a Spanish street and Japanese historic architecture in exquisite detail.
A self-taught miniature house craftsman, Hidefumi encountered obstacles in his work.
While many dollhouses are based on a 1:12 scale his was on a 1:20 scale. It was also challenging to collect materials for his creations. For example, a tatami mat was too loosely woven to use for a miniature house, and he did not know where to obtain tableware and ornaments.
One day, Hidefumi and Keiko visited a dollhouse exhibition at a department store in Hiroshima.
He asked a lot of questions of a man standing at the entrance. He showed him an album of pictures of his works and they exchanged business cards.
Six months later, Hidefumi received a call from the man.
He said he was planning an exhibition and asked, "Would you be interested in showing your works at a dollhouse exhibition at a Tokyo department store?"
Hesitantly, he sent three of his artworks he had made in the past few months to the exhibition.
On the final day of the exhibition, one customer asked if he could buy his replica of a soy sauce brewer and merchant house, one of his three exhibits, offering hundreds of thousands of yen for the work.
The man he had met in Hiroshima often informed Shimaki of dollhouse exhibitions across Japan.
In 2006, a hotel official in Tottori Prefecture, who saw his exhibition on television, called him to say he wanted to commission three works for 600,000 yen each.
"You can't tell what will happen in your life," Shimaki said. "Opportunities are important."
As Shimaki found it difficult to pursue dual jobs as an architect and a replica house maker, he decided to opt for the latter.
"We don't have children. We are just two," he said. "We would be able to live on pensions by avoiding being extravagant."
He closed his architect studio in 2009 and opened a miniature house workshop and named it "Casa de Tonta" after their dog, Tonta.
For the past seven years, he has been making Japanese-style architecture. He has made 13 houses, including novelist Chiyo Uno's birthplace and a former home of the author Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904).
He now accepts orders at exhibitions, instead of selling his works on the spot. He does so because it takes several months to create a replica, and he would run short of his creations for exhibitions.
His goal is to attract many people to his miniature houses.
"I hope to create replicas that can present another world, where visitors can feel as if they were in a different world," Shimaki said. "I want them to have a thrilling experience; one they would feel as if looking into a kaleidoscope."
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