Hakata Art Dolls

According to some people, the history of Hakata Ningyo dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. It seems that when Kuroda Nagamasa built Fukuoka castle, someone making ridge-end tiles for the castle developed his skills with forming and firing, and he gave one of the figures he made to the head of the clan.
It is also said that Hakata Ningyo originate from simple biscuit fired toy dolls that were made by the people living in the Gion-machi district of Hakata sometime during the first half of the 19th century.

A great variety of figures are made including representations of beautiful women, kabuki players, characters from Noh dramas, characters of town and country, famous Taoist or Buddhist figures, and children. All are characterized by an unassuming beauty springing from biscuit firing, subtle coloring and finely carved details.


Hakata Ningyo can be roughly categorized by personality of the doll :Bijin (beautiful lady), Kabuki, Noh, Customs, Characters in Taoism or Buddhism and Wappamono (children). Their characteristics derive from the calm colorings which are made through simple biscuit firing and fine engraving.

How to make

Local clay is kneaded and engraved to create the prototype, then the mold is shaped by plaster. The body is shaped by the mold, and then baked. After the body is taken out from a kiln, the foundation is made to paint the hair and the face. The process usually takes 20 to 60 days to complete.