Hashimoto Doll Store is a doll-making company that has been in business since 1751. The store is located a little off the main street in Kawaramachi, Kyoto Prefecture. There are various types of Kyo dolls inside of the store in which craftsmen who have kept the history preserved for more than 250 years. They use their advanced and traditional skills to produce the finest Kyo dolls. We interviewed Mr. Koji Hashimoto, the representative of the shop, who has created many beautiful Hina dolls.
—Could you please tell us about your background?
My mother’s family lived in Gion, so I was born in the town and grew up in Kawaramachi. I went to elementary and junior high school in that area. After I graduated from the high school in Kyoto, I moved to Osaka for my university. After that, I worked for a company in Osaka for a year before coming back to Kyoto.
—What kind of things you liked when you were kid?
I used to do many things such as basketball, soccer, baseball, painting and woodworking. I also did sculpture and calligraphy. I think the longest thing what I did was calligraphy since I learned calligraphy all the way until high school. By the way, I won so many competitions in Japan. I was even told by my teacher that I should become a professional calligrapher.
―That’s impressive! Did you start leaning it as you were interested, or you parents wanted you to do it for your education?
I assume that was for my education bacuase I started it when I was 6 years old.
―I see. So were you in the calligraphy club in your school?
Actually I was not in the club but I joined basketball club instead. I quitted the club though as the team was not very good (Laughs).
—After this, what did you major at your university?
I studied economics there.
―I think you entered the field of crafting dolls after that. Do you think it was an inevitable?
It was inevitable. I was always told that I would be the heir of the family business. I also went to training to improve my skill. I really want to open a restaurant to be honest, but I don’t have much time at the moment.
—Did you have any resistance to take over the family business?
Well, nothing. As I said before, it was inevitable. That’s the way I was raised, and I just felt like “that’s my life”.
―Do you have any hobby?
I like to enjoy food and drinks now. I tend to go out to eat great food and drink. In terms of physical exercise, I like to do skiing and winter sports.
―What kind of alcohol do you like?
I like everything but, I like to drink wine and shochu. I usually drink every day. I have never missed to drink for more than 20 years. My favorite thing to do is to go on a trip and drink from the morning. At those times, I can drink all day long. (Laughs)
―I’m going to change the question a little bit, but is there anything you are caring about your work?
Dolls nowadays are made by a simplified way by using cheap materials. There are many shops that are doing such bad things. We have a complete lineup of authentic materials and we take pride in combining these materials to create the best dolls.
―Do you have any vision for the future of doll industry or anything that how you want to work for this craft?
I think Japanese people already know about Hina Dolls, but from now on I would like to focus on overseas markets. We want people from different culture to know the Japanese dolls not only as a product, but also as a culture, and we want them to know that this is what dolls are all about.
―Is there anyone you admire?
Hmm… I cannot think of anyone at the moment (Laughs).