Doll Culture Exhibition

Hello dear readers! How are you?


Recently I spent the day taking in two exhibitions at the Mori Arts Centre in Roppongi. The first one I went to was about Margaret, the long-running girls magazine that introduced many famous and classic shoujo mangas. The second one was Doll Culture, and that’s the one I’ll tell you about today!


I really loved Barbie as a child and I kept all my dolls very carefully. I grew up without brothers and sisters so I could play by myself and do as I liked, without sharing! I hope it didn’t make me too selfish but certainly my dolls became very precious friends to me. I made names and stories for them and I especially liked making clothes and houses for them. Now I don’t really play with dolls but I still adore looking at them!


For me, this exhibiton was great in many ways. Although it was called Doll Culture it seemed to give and insight into Japanese girl culture of this century. You can see the toys that girls played with, the clothes they wore as children, teens and adults, the kind of lifestyle that they aspired to etc. In fact the BJDs felt kind of out of place to me, maybe because they’re a hobby that probably men and women equally participate in. I’m not sure on that but it’s my impression!


The clothes were the most exciting part for me, especially when I found some lolita outfits! This Jenny parade showed Japanese fashion from the 1980s to the present day.



Here’s late 80s Jenny wearing a Pink House lookalike ensemble:



Ganguro Jenny from the 90s!



Gothic Jenny and lolita Jenny from the same decade! These are surely based on real clothes from Moitie and Baby.



It was really exciting to see these fashions being appreciated in a big exhibition like this, and the outfits look like real clothes rather than fanciful adaptations.


There were also a lot of Blythes, Licca-chan, and BJDs. There were different Blythe models set out for you to try to pick up and play with. I find Blythe very frightening as well as cute but I did play with one and make her terrible big eyes move about.


My absolute favourite part of the exhibition was the little timeline of dolls from the 1930s onwards. I love all retro things and I’m an especial fan of these Showa-era ‘Pose Dolls’.



I’m moving to a bigger house soon and I’ve decided to treat myself to a pose doll of my own! You can buy them in antique shops for a reasonable price, but they are all so cute it’s hard to choose which one to buy….



Maybe if I can find a black-haired girl like me, I’ll buy her, since they are usually blondes or redheads. I actually found a beautiful Spanish girl in a junk shop in Sussex this summer and I wanted to get her… It would be funny to finally bring her all the way back to Japan!



I also loved this 1930s bunka doll (the large doll in the red bonnet on the right) and the pretty doll furniture.



I want the dresses and headdresses of these two girls! So cute!



These two are from more recent times (1980s I think) but still very chic!



Do you recognise these two? It’s Amami Yuki and Yoshiki!



Two retro-styled dolls.  I think the one on the right is based on a Rune Naito design.


In this display there were also Sailor Moon dolls which I didn’t photograph but I think might be interesting for some readers. I didn’t take pictures of the Blythes, Barbies or BJDs in the rest of the exhibition either but really, there was a lot to see! I did also photograph some of the dolls from the first part of the exhibition, the ones whose clothes I found interesting (actually I didn’t like this first part much since the display was really ugly. But it all got so much better!).


These 1990s-looking and a bit gothic, proto-lolita outfits give these dolls character. I think they look like they’re from an Ai Yazawa comic!



I really liked these kind of Victorian-looking outfits too. And the girl on the left made me miss my long hair a bit D: Maybe I’ll have to buy some fake plaits to plop over my ears!


I hope you enjoyed the pictures, I tried to show you the bits I felt were most interesting. I found many things to enjoy at this exhibition, and though I’ve been to various doll museums and exhibitons, this was the most exciting. It felt very lovingly put together, very stylish and very girlish! It was also expensive, but worth it.


By the way, if you go, you can bring your own doll and take photos of it at the various photo spots! There were also human photo spots but as I went  by myself I couldn’t take advantage of either.


As I said, I also went to the Margaret exhibition on the same day. Although I couldn’t take many pictures, I’d still like to make a post about it so please look forward to that one next!


Thanks for reading,






4 thoughts on “Doll Culture Exhibition

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