February 19, 2018

Sarubobo Doll Making Experience: The Day We Hatched Baby Monkeys

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  • The Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center during a snowy afternoon

    We entered the store a bit frightened. We saw needles, threads, and faceless dolls. Then and there, we knew that it was to test our skills when it comes to crafts-making.

    Our materials for our sarubobo doll making

    We visited the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center in Hida Folk Village on a snowy afternoon. In this place, guests can buy and create their own sarubobo doll.

    It’s time to test our crafts making skills!

    The Sarubobo doll or baby monkey is a popular handmade souvenir in Japan. Although its history can be traced to China, these dolls are now specifically being made in Gifu Prefecture, particularly at Hida Takayama where they are mostly given as gifts. Sarubobo dolls are said to have the power to ward off evil as they act like a protective charm. Each color of sarubobo represents a distinct feng shui power.

    If you were to make your own sarubobo doll, what color would you choose?

    We found our group seated and listening intently to our guide, who made sure we did well in crafting our baby monkeys. Our sensei fervently explained to us the step-by-step process of making the dolls, as she helped us stitch the head to its body. She made sure we finished our own sarubobo dolls perfectly.

    I admit I have zero talent when it comes to sewing or anything related to handcrafting, but our sensei taught us well. After about 20 minutes of blood, sweat, and tears, we have each finally conceived our own sarubobo dolls who will bring us luck and protect us from harm in the near future.

    Our kind sensei teaching us how to properly stitch. Even boys will have fun with this activity!

    Aside from Sarubobo Doll making, the Hida Takayama Experience Center also offers other hands-on activities such as rabbit doll making, baking rice crackers, Hida pottery painting, and snow globe making among others. It’s totally a great experience for families and friends, as they learn an exciting activity in Hida.

    My Sarubobo doll is named Hida, named after the town where I made it. I originally wanted to get the yellow one, but my friend prodded me to get the pink one instead.

    So, are you excited to make your own Sarubobo doll?


    Address: 1-436 Kamiokamotomachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
    Contact: (0577) 34-4711
    Operating Hours: 10 am to 4 pm (No reservations required)
    Closed: Thursdays
    Website: http://www.omoidetaiken.jp/
    How to get here: It is a 10-minute ride by bus from Takayama Bus Center. If coming from JR Station, it’s about a 20-30 minute walk.

    Written by Jastine Valeriano

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