Doll otaku community asks anyone with information to help reunite Sakura-chan with her owner, who’s loved her for more than 20 years.

As we talked about recently, otaku, for various reason, usually don’t show up in their own travel photos in Japan. However, that’s not to say their snapshots are strictly of scenery and wildlife.

A popular activity among doll otaku, passionately devoted collectors of dolls and doll clothing, is the doru tabi, or “doll journey,” in which doll otaku will take their favorite doll with them while sightseeing, then slip their plastic muse into the photos they take. For example, one otaku recently took his beloved doll, named Sakura-chan, on a date to Enoshima, an island off the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbor to the south. After stopping by the Hello Kitty cafe for a strawberry parfait, they strolled along the beach to watch the sunset, but the romantic atmosphere was suddenly shattered by tragedy

…as a large bird swooped down, snatched Sakura-chan away, and flew off, as shown in these photos from Japanese Twitter user @izumichobits, a friend of Sakura-chan’s owner.

Kites, hawk-like birds of prey, are a common site along the Kanagawa coastline, and numerous signs warn visitors to be cautious of the animals, which often swoop down to grab food that’s been dropped on the ground or, in extreme cases, right out of the hands of people in the middle of eating snacks on the beach.

▼ A kite

“Please spread the word,” requests @izumichobits. “My friend has treasured his Sakura-chan doll for more than 20 years, cherishing her as a member of his family. Should anyone have any information as to her whereabouts, please contact me, and should you find her, please turn her over to the police for safekeeping.”

▼ A kite caution sign, taken by another doll otaku whose companion wasn’t snatched away.

Given the nature of @izumichobits’s friend’s devotion, it’s hard to say whether Sakura-chan’s owner feels like the incident counts as theft or kidnapping, but either way he has the sympathy of like-minded enthusiasts, who’ve left comments such as:

“This must be so painful for him. I hope he finds her.”
“I just got back walking along the beach from Enoshima Island to Yuigahama Beach, but I didn’t see any sign of her.”
“As a Kanagawa resident, and also a doll otaku, I cannot sit by and do nothing, so I’m retweeting your story.”
“I can’t believe the kite would do that!”
“It’s so sad how all that’s left behind of Sakura-chan are her socks and shoes.”

If there’s a ray of hope, it’s that, as mentioned above, kites have come to associate the presence of food with humans, and so it’s likely the bird mistook Sakura-chan for something edible. Once it found out it couldn’t eat the plastic figure, it probably dropped it. Though that sets up the unfortunate possibilities that Sakura-chan was dropped where no one will find her – such as deep in the forest or into the ocean, or that whoever did find her body mistook her for trash and threw her away – it does at least leave a chance of the doll and her owner being reunited. Unless, of course, the kite was motivated simply by a personal dislike of Sakura-chan, like someone else spotted in Kanagawa with a deep hatred of a specific otaku-oriented character, in which case it might intend to hold Sakura-chan as hostage indefinitely out of spite.

Source: Twitter/@izumichobits via Jin
Insert image: Wikipedia/Nekosuki600
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