Hariko dolls are a Japanese traditional craft that has been made for over 400 years. Considered good luck charms, popular characters include tigers and daruma.
These dolls are still made by hand using the same meticulous and traditional techniques. This involves forming the shape of the doll by covering a wooden, earthen or plaster mold with multiple layers of Japanese washi paper, coating it with funori-glue made from seaweed and leaving it out to dry in the sun. The final step of this painstaking process is to hand-paint the colorful characters.
The fibers of the Washi allow for ideal layering and soft textures that look similar to a watercolor or oil painting.
Hariko figurines sometimes look almost like ceramic pieces but they are so light in weight since they are made with paper and that inside is empty.
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Washi is a traditionally hand-made paper that dates back to the eighth century, and is often still made by hand today. Making Washi is a long process: kozo (mulberry), bamboo, hemp, rice, or wheat plant bark is soaked in clear river water, boiled to thicken, then beaten and filtered through a gridiron and dried in sheets in sunlight for a natural, soft finish. The beauty of Washi papers are treasured throughout Japan, and they are still used today for everything from interior design to traditional arts, letter writing, and books. Washi has been recognized by UNESCO as being a part of Japan's Intangible Cultural Heritage.