This female doll is named Fuji-Musume, the "Wisteria Maiden," and represents a popular character from kabuki theater. Dating from the 1950s, the doll wears a yellow kimono with a blue, white, and green floral pattern, and an orange and gold embroidered silk obi (sash).The right sleeve and neck of her kimono is orange, gold, and silver embroidered silk with a white and red patterned fabric underneath. She has short black hair and bangs, and is wearing a red, circular "umbrella hat" attached to her chin with an orange cord that has gold tassels. The hat has a gold trim and a purple, white, and green floral pattern painted on the top. She is holding wisteria branches made of paper and wire in her left hand and over her left shoulder. Her ceramic face is white with black painted eyebrows and a red (fading) painted mouth; her eyes are likely made of glass. She is standing on a black lacquered platform in a feminine posture standardized by the onnagata (female role-playing actors) of kabuki.
She came with a purple-colored, four-page pamphlet with background information on herself, kabuki theater, and Japan. In the packet she describes her kimono, and how the sleeves were used to carry important objects; she invites you to look inside her sleeves. There is a 1-yen penny from 1957 (Showa 31) and a 1-cent penny from the Netherlands from 1955 in the orange sleeve.
Fuji Musume ("Wisteria Maiden") is a famous kabuki dance, now a complete play as well. The dance was first performed in 1826, inspired by images of the Wisteria Maiden figure from Lake Biwa. The dance tells the love story of Fuji Musume, wearing an elegant furisode kimono (long-sleeved kimono) and carrying a wisteria branch. Throughout the course of the dance, Fuji Musume expresses the joy of being in love, then moves to heartbreak, jealousy, and betrayal, and finally to resolution and reconciliation.
Kabuki theater is a classical Japanese dance-drama known for its stylization and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of the actors. Kabuki originated in 1603 with the female performer Izumo no Okuni in Kyoto, but onna-kabuki (women’s kabuki) was outlawed in 1629. Already immensely popular, it was replaced by wakushu-kabuki (young boys’ kabuki), but that, too, was outlawed in the mid-1600s, only to be replaced by yaro-kabuki, with adult male actors, which continues today.