Dozens Of Dollhouses Throw Open Doors At Hakone Museum

Dozens of dollhouses throw open doors at Hakone museumA community of some of the tiniest houses in the world has been created at the foot of Japan’s tallest peak, Mount Fuji.
The popular tourist destination of Hakone, southwest of Tokyo, known for its hot springs, is also famous for being home to many small museums of peculiar private collections of all sort of things.

The latest one, Doll House Museum Hakone, which opened this summer, is packed with about 50 mainly European and American dollhouses.

The dollhouses were collected by museum director Yasuaki Niimi over many years from around the globe.

“Dollhouses are manifestations of the makers’ thoughts, love, as well as their perspective on history. That infinitely inspires the imagination and creativity of people looking at them,” said Niimi, explaining why people are fascinated by the models.

Visitors can also experience the art of making a dollhouse by selecting a design for the house, and then picking the furniture, accessories and figurines. When completed, they can take pictures of it.

Most of the American dollhouses were made in the early 20th century by Motts, a couple famed for constructing them.

All of the models give an insight into how people lived in the past.

Japanese visitors can get a glimpse of rather exotic foreign cultures and history, and tourists from the West may enjoy a sense of nostalgia when examining the scenes in each house.

In one single-story dollhouse, a miniature figure of a woman holding a baby can be seen complete with a milk bottle and the floor is covered with a flower-patterned carpet. There's also a mop and a bed with an alarm clock beside it.

Texts accompanying the exhibits explain the history and background of the miniature models.

On the panels for a general store and an elementary school, the text says they are reminiscent of “Little House on the Prairie,” a novel and TV drama series set in the United States in the late 19th century.

German dollhouses are filled with finely made accessories while a Spanish one has pretty white balconies.

Many British-made miniature houses tend to relate to famous literature. A diorama of an escaped prisoner sleeping in a graveyard in front of a church is based on a scene in “Great Expectations,” the classic novel penned by Charles Dickens. Miniatures modeled after a Lake District style house lived in by Beatrix Potter, the author of the Peter Rabbit books, and the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, a celebrated British novelist, are also displayed.

Admission is 1,000 yen ($9.90) for adults, 800 yen for junior high school to university students and 500 yen for elementary school students. The museum is open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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