Night Comers: An Interview with Doll Artist Midori Hayashi

From November 7 through November 19, 2017, Vanilla Gallery (Tokyo, Japan) presents Midori Hayashi’s solo exhibition: “Night Comers”. Many of our readers are familiar with her work. She is one of the artists featured in the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine curated exhibition “Aestheticism” at Vanilla Gallery in Spring 2016. Needless to say, we’ve been following her work for some time. Recently, we had the pleasure of talking with her about her journey to becoming a doll artist. It’s a deeply personal and interesting story, and possibly one of our most gripping artist interviews so far.

11月7日から同月19日までヴァニラ画廊(東京)にて、林美登利の個展、「Night Comers 」 が開催されます。多くのビューティフルビザーの読者は彼女の作品をご存知かと思います。2016年にヴァニラ画廊で開かれ、ビューティフルビザーが監修した展示会、「aestheticism~耽美~」 に参加された作家のひとりです。勿論、我々も彼女の作品を追い続けてきました。最近、彼女がどのような行程を通して人形作家の道を選ばれたのかインタビューをする機会が与えれました。興味深いお話で、今まで行ったインタビューのなかでも最も強く心を捕らえられたました。

Before we start, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?

I am Midori Hayashi, a doll artist. I’m based in Japan. Recently, I joined Instagram. My Instagram user name is @midori_dollartist. I use Cernit to create my dolls’ faces, feet and hands; and, I use animal remains and brass to create my doll’s bodies.


人形作家の林美登利(Midori Hayashi)です。日本で作家活動をしています。最近、Instagramを始めました。アカウントは@midori_dollartistです。 オーブン樹脂粘土のcernitを使って人形の顔や手足を作り、動物の骨や真鍮などを使って人形の胴体を作っています。

How long have you been doing this? What makes you want to create dolls?

In year 2000, I joined Doll Space Pygmalion (a doll-making class led by Yoshida Ryo). Before that, I worked for a small video game company. I was very busy and often worked until midnight. But, after I got married, I left the job and I had some free time on my hands. Around that time, I recalled that I like dolls created by Yoshida Ryo; and so, I decided to joined the Doll Space Pygmalion



How did you establish your distinct doll-making style?

In 2000, I joined Yoshia Ryo’s doll-making class and learned how to make ball jointed dolls. Before that, I was an otaku who liked to read manga and watch anime. But after I joined Doll Pygmalion, I acquired an aesthetic sense.

In 2003, I had a threatened preterm labor. I was hospitalized and had to quit Doll Space Pygmalion. But, I couldn’t give up making dolls, so I participated in Kurokawa Saemi’s workshops. From her, I learned how to make baby dolls by using Cernit. Cernit make it possible for me to create lifelike dolls that almost looks like wax-figure, and I was intrigued by the idea of creating creepy dolls.

In 2012, I participated in a workshop held by Mantamu. I learned the technique of metal carving and doll-making using animal bones. When I was 23, I found a photo book called “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” in a bookshop. I was shocked by the photos. In it, I discovered beauty, the strong existence of affection, and tragedy. So I came up with the idea to I adapt the things I learned from Mantamu. By using animal bones to create my dolls’ bodies, I am able to impart the things I experienced upon looking at the images in the books through my dolls.



2003年に私が切迫早産になって急に入院することになったのでピグマリオンを辞めました。でも人形作りを諦められず、今度は黒川早恵美さんによるcernitのワークショップに参加しました。 黒川さんからはcernitを使用した赤ちゃん人形の作り方を教わりました。私はcernitの質感は蝋人形のように生々しいので、cernit を使って異形の人形を作ったら、まるで生きているみたいに見えて面白いだろうと思いつきました。

2012年にマンタムさんのワークショップに参加して、彫金の技術と動物の骨を使った作品の作り方を学びました。私は『Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America』という写真集を23歳の時に本屋で見て、とても衝撃を受けたことがあります。その写真には、愛情と、悲劇と、そして厳然たる美があるように感じました。マンタムさんが制作した骨を使った芸術作品を見て、私も骨を使って人形を作れば、あの時の衝撃を私の人形に取り入れることができるかも知れないと考えました。

What are the main sources of your inspirations?

When I had a threatened preterm labor, I had to stay in a hospital. The nurse assigned to me told me that I needed to have a peaceful bed-rest or my baby will not survive. I was hospitalized for 40 days, and during that period of time, my baby could have died. Throughout my hospitalization, I learned the fragility of babies’ lives. As years gone by, I also learned about the cuteness and the strength/toughness of the child. After my child was born, I rarely opened the “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” photo book because the contents are too shocking. But, it still is the main source of my inspirations, especially the one titled “Peacefully dead and the family who loved them” (I don’t know the original title, only its Japanese translation). Other than that, I’m also inspired by: novels, manga, and anime.


切迫早産で産院に入院したことは私にとって大きな出来事です。産院の看護婦さんに「おとなしくベッドで寝ていないと、おなかの赤ちゃんが死んでしまいますよ」と脅されて40日間入院していたのですが、実際、産院は子供の死ととても近い場所でした。入院生活で知った子供の命の儚さ、その後の育児で知った子供の強烈な可愛さと意外なタフさ。これらが私のインスピレーションの源になっています。 自分の子供が生まれてからは衝撃が強すぎて見返すことは少なくなりましたが、『Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America』という写真集に掲載されている、安らかな死者と彼らを愛する家族の写真もインスピレーションの源です。 他には、小説、漫画、アニメなども私のインスピレーションの源になっています。

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

It’s difficult for me to be aware that I’m an artist because – in the beginning – I learned doll-making as a hobby. It’s difficult for my family to recognize me as an artist, and it took them a long time before they do so. Also, since I never went to an art school, I find it hard to draw/render human bodies.


私は趣味で人形作りを始めたので自分がアーティストなのだという自覚を持つことが苦手でした。私の家族に私はアーティストなのだと分かってもらうことはとても困難なことで時間がかかりました。 また、私は美術の専門教育を受けたことがないので、デッサン的に正しい人間の形を作ることに毎回苦労しています。 

When you are creating your dolls, which part of the dolls you spend more time on?

Their faces … especially their eyes. In Japan, dolls’ faces are vital. I want my dolls to have lively eyes that gaze back at me.



Is there any particular aspect your overseas fans might fail to notice when they are looking at your work?

Many of my creations are inspired by Japanese urban legends and folk tales. So, perhaps, my overseas fans might not be familiar with the stories. (Human-faced dogs, human-faced fish, and human-face bird often appear in Japanese urban legends and folk tales).



Among all of the dolls you’ve created so far, which doll was the hardest one to create?

Every time I make a doll, I always face some difficulties. So, I cannot choose just one. Since I used animal remains/bones to create my dolls’ bodies, due to their irregular/unpredictable shapes, it’s difficult to come up with a whole composition.

For example, when I used a hornet’s nest to create my doll’s body, I had a difficult time in putting combining the fragile nest with the doll’s face and hands.

Also, when I was creating a doll with a disfigured body, I had a dilemma … I kept on thinking whether I should create the doll. Personally, I find the shape of the doll beautiful; but, perhaps, it might hurt someone’s feelings. When I have that dilemma, I try to make the dolls as beautiful as I can; that way, I can persuade to keep on creating my dolls.


毎回、人形作りには困難を感じているので1つを選べません。 特に素材に骨などを使うようになってからは、前例がないので全体の構成を考えることが大変になりました。例えばスズメバチの巣を材料に選んでしまった時は、壊れやすい蜂の巣にどうしたら顔や手を取り付けことが出来るのかが分からなくて悩みました。 奇形をモチーフに選んでしまった時も悩みます。本当にこの形で人形を作ってしまって良いのか。私はこの形が美しいと思っているけれど、誰かをただ傷つけるだけの作品になってしまうのではないか。そういう時は、とにかく最高に美しい形になるように努力します。そうすることで、迷っている自分を納得させます。

What else are you working on at the moment?

I’m unable to share what I’m making right now, but I can tell you about the doll I recently made. It’s inspired by a documentary show about Amazon rainforest’s indigenous tribes people: the Yamanomi. Whenever they feel the need to reduce the number of babies in their population, they put the babies in termite mounds and let the termites eat to eat babies. To them, those are not acts of murder but rituals of returning the babies to the spirit world. It’s cruel yet beautiful, and the ritual turn the babies into lovely and elevated beings. To recreate the scene, I used a horse’s skull to represent the termite hill. You can see the doll’s photograph on the cover of my new book.


製作中ではなくて最近作り終えた人形のことならあります。 アマゾンの先住民族ヤノマミは、赤ん坊を間引くときに白蟻の蟻塚に赤ん坊の死体を入れ、白蟻に食べさせる。それは殺人ではなく赤ん坊を精霊の世界へと戻す儀式なのだ…。 テレビのドキュメンタリーでこのヤノマミ族の間引きの話を知って衝撃を受け、人形をつくりました。馬の頭骨を白蟻の蟻塚に見立てています。残酷で美しく、でもちゃんと愛らしい人形になっていると思います。新しく出版する私の作品集の表紙に掲載しているのでぜひ見て欲しいです。

Would you tell us a bit more about your new book?

The book – “Night Comers” – was published by Atelier Third at the end of October 2017. Novel writer Mari Ishigami wrote a story based on my dolls, and photogapher Nagare Tanaka shot the photos of the doll. It’s a small book (5.8” x 8.3”), 98-page long, and features more than 30 of my dolls. To commemorate the publication of my book, I’m going to have a solo exhibition at Vanilla Gallery from November 7 until November 19, 2017.


先ほどの質問で触れた、白蟻にちなんだ人形を今回の作品集の表紙に使いました。作品集は2017年10月末にアトリエサードから出版されます。本のタイトルは『Night Comers』です。小説家の石神茉莉(Mari Ishigami)さんが私の人形をイメージした小説を書き下ろしてくれました。写真家の田中流(Nagare Tanaka)さんが人形を撮影してくれました。A5判の小さな本ですが96ページもあります。私の人形を30体以上、作品集に載せました。 出版を記念して、2017年11月7日から19日まで、ヴァニラ画廊で私の個展を開催することになりました。以下にアトリエサードとヴァニラ画廊のサイトを載せます。たくさんの人に私の人形を見ていただきたいです。






This site is protected by reCaptcha and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Beautiful Bizarre will never supply your information to anyone else without your explicit permission - see our PRIVACY POLICY.

Join the Beautiful Bizarre email list


This site is protected by reCaptcha and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine takes your privacy seriously, we will
never share your information without your express permission.