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Kounosu Hina Doll Association (Kounosu City)


 18 Mar 2018

March 3rd is Doll’s Festival (also known as Peach Festival). In Japan, when a girl is born her maternal grandparents will send her a complete set of elegant, luxurious, and gorgeous dolls to put on display in celebration for this festival. The origins of the Doll’s Festival come from a custom which dates back more than a thousand years ago when the daughters of noble families used to play house with paper dolls. During this festival season, the families would pray for good health for their daughters and would wash away the paper dolls, which were used as a substitute.


The dolls represent the appearance of the lifestyle of the Imperial family and could be considered a collection of the fruits of labour and the essence of traditional Japanese artisans’ skills. And in the northern region of Saitama Prefecture, there is a town where the tradition of making Hina Dolls has continued for close to 400 years.





Combining tradition and innovation to create Hina Dolls

The town of Kounosu was a post town on the Nakasendo, a former highway that connected Tokyo and Kyoto. In the beginning of the Edo Era (about 400 years ago), doll making was started during the slack season for farmers. As materials such as Paulownia wood were abundant in the area it supported the advancement of the doll making industry.


In materials from 1902, there are records showing 31 traders and 300 artisans were located in Kounosu, showing the prosperity of the times. At one time so many artisans were gathered there that it became known as Ningyocho (Doll Town), which even today carries the history of tradition.


At present, the traders who manage doll manufacturing in Kounosu City have formed the Kounosu Hina Doll Association. The association is a collaboration of four sections of doll making: the head section, body section, prop section, and red section. The head of the doll is made from a model and the eyes, which require delicate skills, are added by special artisans who are part of the head section. The folding fan, longsword, bow, cap, and drum are made by the prop section. The clothing, from cutting to sewing, is made by the body section. And red figures, such as Daruma, which represent good luck, are created by the red section. Even now, these artisans continue to make new high quality dolls while protecting Japanese traditions.


Manufacturing Process

Three large parts of the Hina Doll are attached to make the dolls

- The head (kashira) part is said to be the life of the doll

- Clothing made from gorgeous fabrics such as Nishijin Silk

- The body part which supports everything


Kounosu Hina Doll Association’s affiliated shop Marutake Ningyo assembles the dolls and is generally open to the public. The chairman of the Kounosu Hina Doll Association, Mr. Norihiro Sekiguchi said, “We want to deliver the real Japanese culture to children for their first experience.”


1 –Pasting, Cutting, and Sewing

Fabrics ordered from Kyoto are chosen and, using a pattern made from Washi paper, they are pasted, cut, and sewn to create the doll’s clothing.  


           Chairman Sekiguchi explains the process of pasting Washi paper to the fabrics.


2 –Dressing

The clothing is put on the doll’s body. The dolls are dressed in the same way people are dressed in kimono (with their arms extended). The arms are folded later.



3 –Choreography

After the clothing is placed on the dolls, the shoulder and elbow parts are bent to give them a natural appearance.



4 –Attaching the head

The head, made by the head section, is attached to the body.








Kounosu Hina Doll Association Executive Office

Post Code: 365-0037

Kounosu City, Ningyo 2-1-8

Inside Marutake Ningyo Corporation

Approx. a 15 min walk from JR Takasaki Line Kounosu Station



Google Map

Opening Hours


Official WEB


Tour Dates and Times

Weekdays: between 10am-12 noon and 1pm – 3pm

Tour Length

20 mins (assembly process only)

Tour Participants

Everyone welcome

Please note that there is no interpreter available

Reservation Requirements

Reservation Required

To make a reservation please phone Marutake Ningyo Corporation

Minimum Number of Participants

One person

Maximum Number of Participants

Approx. 30 people


Please contact us to make arrangements during the busy season (電話番号: 048-541-3517)

Tour participation is free of charge.

Parking lot is available for 20 cars or 3 tour buses.