There’s a little town about two hours from Tokyo called Katsuura, where one a year, dolls rule. 12,000 of them, to be exact.
So, how did Katsuura get so many dolls? The truth is, pretty much every Japanese girlbaby is given a set on her first New Year’s, but if you run out of girls to hand them down to, they’re really hard to throw away!
It’s not just because they’re hella expensive – these dolls actually have to be cremated. Yes, because they’re invested with the power of Shinto gods, they fall into the category of sacred garbage. Which means you can’t just bundle them into a plastic bag and kick them to the curb on burnable trash day, you have to pay priests at a shrine for a doll funeral. (Nevermind the shoot-me-now horror of throwing away dolls and beloved stuffed animals – admit it, you have a scruffy collection in a box in the closet too!)
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Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!