Masanori-Isako Wasano

The Mataro Doll is a type of Kimekomi Doll (handmade wooden dolls dressed in a silk kimono). These dolls were a product of the Edo period (1600 – 1867) and have a history of almost 300 years.

Originally, the body of the Kimekomi doll was made of one piece of wood with grooves. Glue was put into the grooves of the doll body, and the edges of cloth were inserted into the grooves. This method of dressing the doll is traditionally called Kimekomi. Mataro Kanabayashi-1, (1897-1984) the founder of the Mataro Doll Academy, created a unique style for manufacturing dolls based on the traditional techniques of making dolls. Mataro Kanabayashi-1 developed a new method of molding the base form of a doll from paulownia wood sawdust (Japanese Kiri-no-ki Wood) mixed with glue, and named his product the “Mataro Doll”. His method enables dolls to be produced in quantity, making them available to many people. Mataro dolls take their themes and ideas from the beauty of the Imperial Court life of the Heian Period (794-1191). Graceful elegance and rich facial expressions symbolic of the soul of the Japanese are unique to Kamigamo Style Mataro Dolls. Even the beginner can make Mataro dolls without difficulty. It is Mataro’s wish that as many people as possible experience the true delight of doll-making.

lsako started making Kimekomi dolls in 1962. She passed all levels of instruction and reached a higher level of credential in October 2002. She was promoted to the top level of instructors in 2005. She now holds a position among the top ten instructor’s level in Japan and the United States.

In 1992, Isasko earned her GAGO (Certified Honorable Professional Given Name) of Masanori which has one character of her master instructor MATARO KANABAYASHI. Numerous men, women, and children of all ages and ethnicities take her Kimekomi doll classes.

In November 2008, she coordinated the Japanese Ancient Royal Ceremonial Costume Junihitoe Exhibition of elegant 12layered silk kimonos with Grand Master Mataro Kanabayashi II and his delegates from Japan at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. In December Congressman Mike Honda selected her for artist of the 15’h District in California. She went to the White House to decorate President Bush’s Christmas tree, and had Christmas dinner with Mrs. Bush and other artists.

In January 2012, she was inducted into and became a member of the Japanese Bunka (Culture) Hall of Fame sponsored by the Northern California Japanese American Association in San Francisco and was honored with an award.

Since 1986 she and her students have been showing their dolls at the Cupertino-Toyokawa Sister City Cherry Blossom Festival. Congressman Honda selected a doll, “Wakamusha”, which she made and presented to him at the 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival.

The Kimekomi Dolls are beautifully displayed in the Quinlan Center Social Room. Please stop by and see doll making in progress.

Northern California Mataro Doll Miyabi Kai – Contact: iwasano@comcast.net