The vocaloid virtual idol takes on a traditional form while saying it’s OK not to take a traditional path through life.

Hina ningyo, the dolls representing and emperor, empress, and their attendants, are unquestionably symbols of Japanese culture. The dolls have been displayed in Japanese homes for generations as part of the Hina Matsuri celebration, which takes place annually on March 3.

▼ Hina ningyo

Whether anime figures qualify for the same cultural status, though, is much more open to debate. Still, there are plenty of otaku who will passionately champion the artistic merits of 3-D recreations of anime girls, and here to blur the line between those two classes of dolls is a Hatsune Miku hina ningyo.

As a virtual idol, Miku is definitely a 21st-century entertainer. In contrast, Mataro, the Tokyo-based doll maker that crafted the piece, was founded nearly a century ago in 1919.

Initially the designers toyed with the idea of combining a contemporary anime figure-style head with an orthodox hina ningyo body, but Mataro’s craftsmen ultimately decided against this in favor of a more thoroughly traditional look.

▼ Though Hina Miku does retain her aqua-colored twintails.

Mataro realizes that the doll’s round, abstract features differ sharply from the bold, angular lines fans are used to seeing in Miku’s illustrations and CG models. That gap is intentional though, and the designers ask that you gaze upon Hina Miku’s face for three whole minutes before forming your opinion about her, allowing ample time for the subtle complexities of her facial contours to affect what you see.

There’s one more unique aspect to the doll, which is that while Hina Miku is supposed to take the place of the empress hina ningyo, Mataro is bucking tradition by not pairing her with an emperor. Ordinarily, the paired emperor and empress dolls are supposed to represent a happy marriage for the family’s daughters, but the designers say that the hina Miku instead is meant to symbolize girls’ dreams of happiness that are independent of marriage.

While Hatsune Miku has shown herself to be eminently merchandisable, this one-of-a-kind hina ningyo isn’t for sale. Instead, it’ll be on display at Mataro’s shop in Tokyo’s Ueno neighborhood until March 9, since the numbers 3 and 9 (March being the “third” month) can be read as mi and ku in Japanese.

Shop information
Tamaro Ningyo / 真多呂人形
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno 5-15-13
東京都台東区上野 5-15-13
Open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Closed second, fourth, and fifth Saturday of each month, plus all Sundays

Source: PR Times
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: Wikipedia/Nesnad, PR Times
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where his favorite thing about Hina Matsuri is the sakura mochi.

[ Read in Japanese ]