March 3rd is Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, in Japan. It is the annual tradition to display ornamental dolls called Hina-Ningyo during this day to celebrate and wish for the healthy, joy-filled growth of girls, and the tradition is said to have existed since the Heian Period (794-1185).

Hina-Ningyo represent the Emperor, Empress, and their attendants and musicians in the traditional court dress. And while most families have dolls that have been passed on from generation to generation, one craftswoman specializing in these dolls have been creating beautiful Hina-Ningyo with a modern touch.


Source: Goto Dolls

The mastermind behind these new kind of Hina-Ningyo is Yukako Goto, a craftswoman living in Gifu Prefecture who runs the Japanese doll shop Goto Dolls. She shared with us that she devotes her time in making these dolls in hopes that they will become a way for families to express their love for their children, and for children to feel that love.

She initially began creating these new, traditional dolls out of the desire to make dolls that people will look forward to displaying in their homes every year. She believes this is especially pertinent now, as the style of Japanese homes have largely shifted from being made up of mostly Japanese-style tatami rooms, to the now predominantly western-style houses of modern times. The changing of times as well as the change in the style of houses called for different types of dolls that fit the modern lifestyles of the Japanese.


Source: Goto Dolls


Source: Goto Dolls

Although are traditionally meant for young girls, Goto wanted to make ones that older women would be able to appreciate as well. Not surprisingly, her creations have captured the hearts of women all over the country, and she has recently been receiving orders from women who are looking to buy the dolls for themselves. Especially with the various themes and designs that are available, the dolls can be enjoyed by a wide range of customers with different tastes.

But combining traditional and modern concepts isn’t easy. She revealed that applying a modern design or theme to traditional Japanese dolls is extremely difficult, but she believes that the way to pass on tradition is to “change its shape, but pass down its heart,” meaning it is vital to pass on the foundation of Japanese tradition in a way that the younger generation will be able to understand and appreciate.

Traditions live on as part of our lives, and they will only be passed on if we ourselves enjoy it and feel compelled to pass them on to the next generation.

Here are some of the many themes of Goto’s exquisite Hina-Ningyo:


Created as a way to express “kawaii,” and because Gothic Lolita fashion is becoming increasingly popular overseas.

Forest Wedding

With the male doll holding a ring!


Source: Goto Dolls


Source: Goto Dolls

Flower Garland

This set portrays the joy of being loved.


Source: Goto Dolls

Bears In The Forest

Cute and whimsical, the dolls have been switched with teddy bears.


Source: Goto Dolls


An elegant set using high-quality silk.


Source: Goto Dolls

Japanese Colors

A design focusing on colors often used in Japanese art.


Source: Goto Dolls

Other themes place dolls in a snowy, winter scene, or in a set inspired by Émile Gallé, a French glass artist who is considered to be one of the major forces in the French Art Nouveau movement. With such stunning, modern-traditional Hina-Ningyo, we have only to wonder what new theme she will come up with next.

See more of Goto’s dolls on the Goto Dolls website.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.