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Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum

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Discover the traditional art of Japanese doll-making at a museum in this artisan town in Saitama

Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture



Iwatsuki, in the eastern part of Saitama City, has long been known as the town of “ningyo,” traditional Japanese dolls. It is one of the leading ningyo production areas in Japan.
The Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum opened to promote this intricate ningyo culture. The museum exhibits excellent ningyo collections, including the elegant Gosho Ningyo from the 18th century, as well as gorgeous hina ningyo (dolls for the annual Hina Matsuri doll festival), and warrior ningyo. You can also learn how traditional crafts have been handed down through local families and see ningyo-making at work. Have a go at making your own doll in a hands-on workshop at the Nigiwai Koryukan Iwatsuki, a community complex next to the museum.
Beyond the museum, you will find street signs for ningyo manufacturing studios all over Iwatsuki. The town also hosts numerous annual festivals, such as the Machikado Hinameguri (Hina Ningyo Tour), in late February, during which ningyo are displayed at stores throughout the town.
Meanwhile, in early March, Nagashibina (meaning “doll floating”) is held to celebrate the healthy growth of children. During this ceremony, a circular raft made of straw, known as a “sandawara,” is released and floated into a pond. The sandawara is said to be the original form of the hina ningyo.
In August, the Iwatsuki Festival features an 8-meter-high platform of ningyo on which people stand, dressed up as ningyo dolls. In November, a Ningyo Doll Memorial Ceremony (kuyosai) is held for dolls that people are ready to let go of. The dolls are burned while people pray for the repose of their souls.


How to get there

It is about 50 minutes by train from Tokyo, and 10 minutes on foot from Iwatsuki Station (East Exit) on the Tobu Urban Park Line (Noda Line).


6-1-1, Honcho, Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken


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