This is my Ichimatsu doll. Isn’t she pretty? She was given to me by an Osaka gentleman whose daughters once spent Christmas at our house. She lives in her box most of the time but at Christmas she is allowed out to play.
She’s 36 centimetres tall. Her kimono has a pattern of cherry blossom, butterflies and traditional decorated balls called temari.
The fan tucked into her obi is real and you can take it out and use it though it’s only five centimetres long.
Her obi is tied rather high at the back.
She has her own little sign – it says ‘Ichimatsu Doll’ in large letters in the middle. On the left it says ‘Made by Sakurayama’ and on the right ‘top quality original head’.
There’s a number on the base she stands on – it’s 1006-6 – so I suppose she must be unique. Her head is probably made of gypsum and her body of polyurethane. All Ichimatsu dolls have the same hairstyle, a sort of straight bob called kappa and the same round, rather childish face.
She’s a dressing-up doll so in theory I could take off her kimono and dress her in another one that I’d made myself. That is so not going to happen.
There are various stories about how these dolls came to be called Ichimatsu. One is that they are named after a famous (and good looking) kabuki actor of the Edo period called Sanogawa Ichimatsu; another is that so many children were called Ichimatsu that the name just signified a child’s doll; a third is that the dolls originally wore chequerboard pattern kimonos. (Ichimatsu means chequerboard pattern).
So is she very valuable then, my doll? I’m not sure. Prices on Rakuten (the Japanese rival to Amazon and eBay combined) mainly run from around 30,000 to 60,000 yen, (around £250-£500) with some dolls costing as much as 150,000 yen or over £1000. Nice, but not enough to give up the day job. And the expensive ones all seem to have their own display cabinets which mine doesn’t have. And anyway, how could I part with her?
The only thing she doesn’t have is a name. Any suggestions?