japanese paper dolls

I was going to do a NaNoWriMo linkfest, but honestly? I’m a little fatigued by NaNo. Even though it’s only four days into November–not to mention I’m not nano-ing. If you’re a writer, you’re probably subscribed to writing blogs that are doing a fantastic job of putting out and promoting NaNo-related content.

So, instead of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to talk about Japanese paper dolls.

Yep. You heard that right.

A few days ago I had only the vaguest idea that there might be such a thing as Japanese paper dolls. But I have a 5yo daughter who loves pretty things, and she’s studying Japan at the moment, so my thought processes went something like:

Japan–>must do related activity–>5 year old loves fancy patterns, bright colors and pretty costumes–>kimonos!–>rats, I don’t sew and I can’t fob this off on husband who does–>I know! JAPANESE PAPER DOLLS!

So, I googled around and realized I was not the first one who’d made the above connection. Turns out making Japanese paper dolls is a popular activity–and not just for kids. This klutz-proof tutorial yielded us several lovely dolls, albeit with black construction paper hair and faces, because 5-and-3-year-olds cannot fathom faceless dolls.

Of course, pretty Japanese-patterned origami paper is not a staple of our arts & crafts supply shelf, but not to worry. You can actually print out origami paper. It’s not as rich and finger-friendly as real Japanese paper but it does in a pinch. Alternatively, glossy magazines can yield suitable paper–for my test-run doll I made a kimono out of a picture of pink blossoms from a Birds & Blooms magazine.

After making our dolls, we pulled out Children Just Like Me: Celebrations and read a double-page spread on Hina Matsuri, the Japanese Dolls’ Festival that takes place in the spring.

I find real dolls rather creepy (thanks, Chucky), but paper dolls are so delightful and charming. I especially like the ones with period clothing.

What about you? Anyone into paper dolls, origami, or pretty paper?

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  1. Prue says

    Wow! I know home-teaching must be challenging and hard work. But right now I’m envious of the research you do and the paths that takes you down 😀
    Japanese dolls! Never heard of them but aren’t they gorgeous? I’m not into making things out of paper – preferring wool and fabric – but I can see the attraction of these especially if you can print origami paper.
    I’ve tried origami but find it frustrating rather than creative. My friend’s little boy started doing it and now (he’s 15) he makes the most complicated things without any instructions!

    Thanks for sharing this gem. Much more inspiring than NaNo links!

    Dolls are creepy? Hmmm. You could pour your unease and horror, even, into an ‘ordinary’ doll story…just a thought 😉
    Personally, I prefer my teddybear. But that’s another story altogether 😀

    • Rabia says

      I find origami too complicated, as well. I’m just not that good with spatial perception. But I LOVE the paper. I have some books of lovely scrapbooking and origami-type paper that I’ve done nothing with except admire. I’m almost afraid to ruin it.

      And, sure, dolls are creepy! Those wide eyes and thick lashes and blank zombie stares… not to mention the freaky ones that coo and giggle. None of my kids are into dolls that much though; even my daughter prefers stuffed puppies and horse figurines. And paper dolls. :)

  2. dkoren says

    I’m in the “dolls are creepy” camp. Between the Twilight Zone doll ep and the Night Gallery doll ep… I was scarred at a young age, and dolls have just made me squint and stare suspiciously at them ever since! I did put that into a story I wrote (ironically, during nano 2008) that included a creepy lifelike doll — who controls zombies with her singing.

    The Japanese paper dolls are very pretty, though. I love that you can print out the origami paper, and I love your cleverness in finding interesting activities for your kids. That’s so awesome!

    • Rabia says

      Oooh, a singing zombie-controlling doll sounds deliciously creepy!

      Historically, though, dolls do have a dark history. Like voodoo dolls. And aren’t there worry dolls, too? During Hina Matsuri, from what I read, heaps of dolls are set afloat on little boats. The hope is that they carry away bad luck and ill health. Puts a different twist on the concept of “scapegoat” (scape-doll?). :)

  3. says

    Much better than a Nanowrimo linkfest! I love them! My daughter would adore these and would play with them for months. We are totally going to do this. I even have origami paper.Thanks!

  4. says

    Clever, indeed, Rabia!

    Guess I won’t be doing NaNo, either. November? Really? Nuts.

    Those paper dolls are charming, and you must have had such a delightful time with your daughter. You are building important memories for her, as well as helping her to gain skills and knowledge. Such a sweet time of life. Savor every day. :)TX

    And thanks for stepping out of the crowd to be your own parade!

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