Meiji Ningyo Restoration, part I

Wandering through a local estate liquidator’s shop last week, this little fellow caught my eye. He stood in a glass case, carelessly dressed and dreadfully sun faded. His hakama had been tied up as if it were a pinafore, and his face was cracked and poorly repaired.

Still, I thought he had a charming smile and asked if I could examine him.

Handling a doll such as this one is like handling an infant. You have to mind how fragile he is, cradle his head and support his legs. And as with a human baby, you marvel just a bit at how delicate and sweet his fingers and toes are.

“Isn’t she pretty?” smiled the shop assistant. “He,” I corrected, looking under the kimono and silently thanking the artist who thought to make him anatomically correct. “It’s a boy.”

I didn’t have any cash on me at the time, so the assistant gave me the shop owner’s card and told me to call her if I wanted to negotiate on the price. Ten minutes later as I was approaching the freeway on-ramp that would take me home, I pulled off the road and called, my heart racing.

No answer. “Please leave a message.” I hung up.

Later that evening after doing some research on ningyo (Japanese dolls) I called again, this time letting the owner know I was interested in making a cash offer for the doll. The next day she called back and accepted my offer. I raced to the shop, trying to stay calm. I knew he was in poor condition; was he even worth what I was offering, or was I getting one heck of a deal?

Once I handed over the cash and collected the doll, it didn’t matter. He’d already melted my heart.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Polly says:

    I’m not surprised that you wanted this doll so much-he’s gorgeous! From your photos he looks incredibly realistic, the expression is like that of a real toddler. I’m looking forward to hearing about the restoration.

  2. wakuwaku131 says:

    Beautiful doll! I would have purchased him, no matter the condition, just for his kimono.

  3. Can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this little one. What a fun adventure!

  4. Tiffanee Niitsu says:

    That’s a very sweet story. He’s so adorable! I’m glad he is in a good home. Thanks for sharing this story.

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