If nothing to do, you can go gawk at Japanese dolls

I have always had this thing for porcelain dolls...especially the part where it could come alive and start terrorising people ala Chucky style...Damn cool, huh?

Okay, okay, my morbid sense for horror aside, there's this free Japanese doll exhibition at the Sun Gallery at Sun-Yat Sen Centre in Macalister Road. No, no, not the 'live' Japanese doll but the porcelain kind that you can see but can't touch.

For more info on this exhibition, here is the news about it taken from our community rag, The Star. By the way, the exhibition is only until May 31 so hurry if you really need to gawk at Japanese dolls in antique kimonos.

A JAPANESE doll maker is giving porcelain dolls an important role to play.

She is turning them into ambassadors of Japanese culture.

Doll maker and antique kimono collector Hiroko Hirano, 60, has been making the ‘ultimate’ porce-lain dolls and dressing them in priceless kimonos that are almost a century old, and more.

Impressive: Hirano holding a porcelain doll dressed in a kimono.

Breathing new life to the antique pieces, she modifies the kimonos and converts them into doll kimonos.

Commonly used for aesthetic purposes, the dolls dressed in kimonos will dazzle admirers with their beauty and more importantly, restore the people’s interest in Japanese culture and kimonos.

“Antique kimonos were very finely-made. In olden days, kimonos were widely worn so there were many skilled kimono makers in Japan. They have since passed on and such fine kimonos are very hard to come by now.

Hiroko with some more of her dressed up dolls.

“I have been collecting these kimonos for 20 years. They are priceless and I feel it would be a shame to just keep them in storage just because they have some holes and faded colours.

“Even in Japan, not many are interested in the kimono anymore. So I want more people to have the chance to admire the beauty of such rare pieces,” said Hirano, adding that her kimono teacher had discouraged her from taking the ‘treasures’ out of Japan.

Kimonos, she explained, were more than traditional costumes as they also represented the spirit of Japanese women.

Another doll, which was dressed up in a miniature antique kimono.

“We call it Yamato-nadeshiko, which refers to the ideal Japanese woman who is gentle on the outside but strong spirited inside,” she said in an interview at her Jalan Thomas home.

Hirano began doll making from a young age as a hobby but as she became more skilled over the years after taking lessons from professional doll makers and doll artists in Australia, United States and Japan, she was inspired to teach others the wonderful art.

She started teaching doll making in Japan last year.

She has been living in Penang for about 10 months and believing that all good things must be shared, she wants to teach doll making here too.

“I started with clay but it was not so interesting so I moved on to porcelain doll making in 1991 and my interest grew.

“I thought only professionals or specialists could make such dolls. I was surprised that I could also learn the art. Now I want to teach others,” she said.

Those who are curious to learn more about her Hiroko Dolls and antique kimonos, can visit her first solo exhibition in Malaysia at the Sun Gallery at Sun Yat-Sen Centre, Jalan Macalister, Penang, from May 17 to 31.

She will be putting up about 40 porcelain dolls clad from top to bottom in antique kimonos and dolls dressed in Western-style clothing made from old kimono fabrics.

Accessories for the dolls like ‘geta’ (Japanese clogs), ‘kinchaku’ (Japanese handbags to go with summer kimonos or yukata) and ‘hagoita’ (wooden bats for traditional bats) will also be on display.

The exhibition will open from 10.30am to 6pm. Admission is free.

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