Wooden dolls

photo Wooden dolls


Wooden dolls, called mokucho ningyo in Japanese, are carved out of paulownia wood and the separate parts for the head, torso, and limbs are assembled using bamboo pegs. Paulownia is low in resin, making it less likely to attract insects. It is also lightweight, strong, and does not deform easily, therefore ideal for making dolls.
While the entire doll is made out of wood, different types are used depending on the doll part. For example, details such as hair ornaments, use wood firmer than paulownia. One of the most difficult parts of creating a wooden doll is making the hands appear natural and expressive.


  1. 1.The doll's head, body, arms and legs are carved out of paulownia wood.
  2. 2.Several coats of gofun (crushed seashell powder) are applied to whiten the wood. The surface is polished smooth with sandpaper.
  3. 3.Glue is placed in grooves that have been made on the body. The edges of the clothing are inserted in the grooves.
  4. 4.The hair and face are painted, the gofun coated arms and legs are attached to the body, and the doll is complete.
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo Reference artworks