NAGOYA--Her grandparents would have probably been horrified if they saw how Takako Yoshino has been playing with her “hina” dolls.
Traditional hina dolls, known for their exquisite craftsmanship, are generally arranged to show scenes of medieval imperial courts, often with servants and court musicians dressed in elegant kimono. They are meant to be admired only.
But Yoshino, 55, who operates a craft workshop in Nagoya's Atsuta Ward, has rearranged her dolls to show professional wrestlers battling in the ring, a henpecked husband carrying shopping bags and boxes while trailing his wife, and other comical, modern-day occurrences.
For the dolls, it’s either Yoshino’s treatment or an unceremonious trip to a garbage dump.
Yoshino has salvaged dozens of hina dolls that have been stashed away for years in people's closets and given them a "second life" as modern caricatures.
"I feel that it is cruel to throw away the dolls simply because they're no longer being displayed," Yoshino said.
Referring to special rites conducted at temples to remove and pray for the souls of dolls that are to be discarded, she said, "I don't think that chanting sutras should be the only way to express gratitude."
Hina dolls are displayed on Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) on March 3 to pray for good health and happiness for girls in the family.
The dolls, which traditionally come in sets of 15, can cost several tens of thousands of yen to millions of yen.
Yoshino’s creations have already proved popular since 130 of her works were first displayed at an art museum in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture, last year.
The exhibition was such a huge success that organizers collected around 2,000 unwanted dolls from around the nation and asked Yoshino to remake them into figurines to match various themes.
For example, one doll was recreated into a tatami mat craftsman for display at a tatami shop. Another doll’s cheeks were painted blush to serve as a police station mascot reminding people not to drive under influence of alcohol.
And another was given a mohawk haircut for display at a beauty salon.
This year, Yoshino's works are being shown at various locations in Nagoya and Gujo Hachiman. Part of her collection can be seen at the Hoshigaoka Mitsukoshi department store in Nagoya's Chikusa Ward through early March.
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