The history of dolls in Japan stretches back to prehistoric times, when figures known as dogu were made. The dogu are abstract clay figurines that date back to the Jomon period (about 10,500 to 300 BC). Later, during the Kofun period (300-538 AD), there was also a tradition of placing hollow baked clay figurines called haniwa on ancient Japanese burial mounds. Since then, a variety of doll-making customs have developed, with each reflecting the culture of their respective regions.

The process of making a doll consists of creating the basic form, dressing it in clothing, and painting a face. The body of the doll may be made from paulownia wood, a type of clay made of paulownia sawdust and paste, numerous sheets of traditional Japanese paper laid atop one another, or potter's clay. Once the body is complete, a chalky white pigment is applied. Then cloth or paper clothing and color is applied to complete the doll.


  • 1 Selecting materials and making the form based on the type of doll
  • 2-1 Carving and assembling wood
  • 2-2 Shaping toso or a clay of paulownia woodchips mixed with paste around a core of paulownia wood
  • 2-3 Layering sheets of traditional Japanese paper (washi)
  • 2-4 Molding ceramic clay and firing the piece
  • 3 Putting clothing on and applying makeup or other finishing touches

Artistic techniques

Decorative techniques

Well-known crafts