Hariko is the Japanese word for papier-mâché.
We brought Hanjiro Sawafuji, a master papier-mâché artist from the Iwate Prefecture in Japan, to do several hands-on workshops in Sonoma and the Bay Area in September 2015.
Hanjiro-san was born in 1944 and began working with his father at the age of 20. Over many years, he has perfected the art of Rokuhara hariko dolls. Rokuhara refers to the region where he lives.
The whimsical figures and wall hangings conjure Japanese history, fantasy, and lore, depicting Daruma (or Bodhidarma), Maneki-neko (literally, beckoning cat), Tsuki-no-usagi (the moon rabbit) and many others.
The dolls are often considered tokens of good luck, and are sought-after collectibles available in craft stores throughout Japan.
When he is not creating these charming creatures, Hanjiro-san can be found writing screenplays for his local theater group, or sculpting with straw, wood, and clay.