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Traditional Japanese doll bearing new era name 'Reiwa' a big hit

A traditional Japanese wooden doll featuring the new era name "Reiwa" is seen in this photo taken in the Aomori Prefecture city of Kuroishi, on April 9, 2019. (Mainichi/Haruo Fujita)

KUROISHI, Aomori -- Orders are flooding in for traditional Japanese wooden "kokeshi" dolls bearing the new era name "Reiwa" that were produced by a craftsman in this northern Japan city.

The "Reiwa kokeshi" dolls made by 69-year-old Tsugaru-style kokeshi doll craftsman Muchihide Abo feature a deep blue color that Abo began to use in his works last year. They bear the kanji characters of the new era name, along with a plum tree, as the characters for Reiwa were selected from a passage on plum blossoms from the "Manyoshu," the oldest anthology of Japanese waka poetry.

Abo says he imagined the scenery back in the days when the "Manyoshu" was composed to draw the petals of the plum blossoms and the shape of the branches.

Among the stream of customers who have visited the Abo Kokeshiya workshop to buy the dolls was Takehiro Sakata, 68, of the city of Hirosaki.

"I bought three dolls for my two grandkids and for myself. I want them to be a commemoration of the new era," Sakata explained.

Abo commented, "I'll be pleased if the upcoming era is a good one for the kokeshi industry."

The Reiwa kokeshi dolls come in six different sizes, ranging from 9-24 centimeters in height. They cost between 1,500 and 4,000 yen each including tax, depending on the size. Customers need to place orders as the Reiwa dolls are all handmade.

Telephone inquiries can be directed to Abo Kokeshiya at 0172-54-8865 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Haruo Fujita, Hirosaki Local Bureau)

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