Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum
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.
In February 2020, the Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum opened to promote the intricate ningyo culture, and 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 skills 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 makers 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 (lit. ‘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 sandwara is said to be 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, the Ningyo Kuyo Festival takes place, with the ritual burning of old ningyo.
Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum is 10 minutes on foot from Iwatsuki Station (East Exit) on the Tobu Urban Park Line (Noda Line).
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