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Hidden Wonders

[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Shohei Ohtani Gets His Own Special Hina Doll

Five top athletes including baseball player Shohei Ohtani and javelin thrower Haruka Kitaguchi were featured in an auspicious collection of Japanese dolls.

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The 2024 "Kotoshi no Kitaibina" hina doll collection by Kugetsu. Taito-ward, Tokyo, January 31. (©Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

On January 31, the renowned doll maker Kyugetsu, based in Asakusabashi, Tokyo, unveiled its "Kotoshi no Kitaibina" collection. Meaning "dolls of expectations for the year ahead," this collection features hina dolls crafted in the likeness of five athletes poised to make a global impact. The athletes selected for the 2024 collection include Shohei Ohtani, the first Japanese home run champion in Major League Baseball. The other four athletes chosen for the collection will compete for medals in the upcoming Paris Olympics and Paralympics, beginning in July and August, respectively. 

The diverse range of sports represented in the 2024 collection presented unique challenges for the artisans crafting the dolls.

The Shohei Ohtani hina doll with its miniature bat. (©Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

Facial Expressions and Sports Equipment

The 2024 collection was based on the theme "Across Generations." In addition to Ohtani, the lineup included top athletes ranging from their teens to their forties:

  • Haruka Kitaguchi, who won the gold medal in the javelin throw at the 2023 World Athletics Championships
  • Breakdancer Ayumi Fukushima (also known as Ayumi)
  • Skateboarder Momiji Nishiya
  • Wheelchair tennis player Yui Kamiji
The Haruka Kitaguchi hina doll with its miniature javelin. (©Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

Artisans rely on the athletes' photos as a reference to recreate their smiles. However, this can be difficult as "most of the athletes' photos are taken during competitions," explains Kyugetsu's President Hisatoshi Yokoyama.

The Yui Kamiji hina doll with its miniature tennis racket and ball. (©Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

Additionally, each hina doll is displayed with small items that symbolize the respective athletes. For example, Ohtani's doll is holding a miniature bat. 

President Yokoyama says, "Deciding what to give Fukushima, the breakdancer, proved to be quite a challenge this time." After some discussion, they settled on giving the doll a treble clef, drawing inspiration from the connection between breakdancing and music.

The Ayumi Fukushima hina doll with a treble clef. (©Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

Supporting Disaster Areas

The collection was displayed at Kyugetsu's Asakusabashi main store until February 2. Following that, from February 4 to 6, it was exhibited at the Daiwa Kohrinbo department store in Kanazawa City, showing solidarity with areas affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake. Subsequently, the exhibition traveled to Kyugetsu's Nagoya store and will continue on to its Fukuoka, Minoh (Osaka), and Sapporo stores.

Since 2013, Kyugetsu has been crafting this special collection every year, with the 2024 collection marking its 12th edition. While not available for purchase, each doll is estimated to be valued between ¥250,000 and ¥300,000 JPY (approximately $1,700 to $2,000 USD).

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Toshinari Nishimura

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