Life Size Living Dolls

Yes, there is a real live girl inside this doll costume!

So, your friend sets you up on a blind date. He describes the girl you’re meeting as a bishōjōgurumiYou look the bits and pieces of kanji up in your ever-handy Japanese electronic dictionary. Woo hoo! “Beautiful…Woman…Doll”! Dude, I totally owe you!

And when she shows up to meet you, you discover he was not lying. She’s the ideal date! Bishōjōgurumi don’t usually talk when they’re in costume (although they’re quite adept at communicating through gestures) so your date will have a cheerful and accepting expression no matter how badly you mangle your intransitive verbs or misuse the honorific form, with no schoolmarmish interrupting to ask if what you really meant to say was, “I am toilet now.”

“Beautiful Girl Dolls” come in many styles, just like the manga and anime characters they portray. This one is dressed as a particularly excellent “Japanese schoolgirl,” an archetype so familiar that men and dogs can invoke the meme with the proper clothing.

Occasionally there are “pop-up” cafés featuring “Beautiful Girl Doll” waitresses at events or shopping malls, modeled after maid cafés.

These pages are from the outrageous Japanese nail art magazine NailMax, and feature custom-designed talons for the “Beautiful Girl Doll” characters.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more