Art & Design
Iwatuski Ningyo Museum
The museum is newly finished with a sleek and minimalist, yet traditionally Japanese exterior. It’s a special place to see many types of Japanese ningyo in a single location, which due to regional differences in design, and the private nature of family ningyo collections, was not something that was possible historically. The ningyo culture of Japan is an interesting one with roughly three broad concepts: expert regional craftsmanship, social status and the protection of life.
One thing which you’ll hear time and again in Japan is the skill of traditional craftsmen. You’ll be treated to this up close and personal at the Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum. While Japan does have its fair share of large statues, like the Buddha statues of Ushiku or Kamakura, it’s sometimes in the details of small-scale creations where their true skill is revealed. From the tools used, to the Ningyo’s finished products of Kabuto (helmets), furniture, instruments, and so on, this museum shows us that Japan’s love of “tiny” and “cute” is not a recent phenomenon, but has existed since classical times.
Such fine motor skills and dedication does not come cheap. Many ningyo, not to mention their accessories, are quite expensive, and some families will spend generations building a collection to be passed down. It is in a family’s ningyo collection that their wealth can be symbolized, much in the same way other heirlooms are used. However, in some cases, the ningyo are private and not on display, while other families choose to display them prominently. People show their wealth in different ways!
The ningyo’s main purpose is to symbolize the growth of a family’s children, for example, displayed during the “Hina Matsuri”, an annual celebration to celebrate and pray for this. Symbolizing the children who will carry on the legacy, the family places great spiritual value and expectation on the ningyo to “look over” their children. They are similar to “Omamori” charms which you buy at shrines for good health and such, and everyone has their own family’s wishes and prayers entrusted to the ningyo.
If you want to see expert craftsmanship, and perhaps the origin of Japanese kawaii (cute), as well as Japan’s love of figurines, the Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum is the perfect place to discover it all. Iwatsuki is full of ningyo -related goods, and the museum shop brings many of them in one place. We know you’ll find something that suits you!
6-1-8 Hon-cho, Iwatsuki Ward, Saitama, 339-0057
9:00a.m.-5:00p.m.*Entrance closes at 4:30p.m.
Mondays (Open on holidays), 12/28-1/4
*Special closures and openings occasionally
Adult ticket 300yen
-High school, college student, 65 and older 150yen
-Elementary and middle school students 100yen
-Yearly passes available
-Large group discounts available