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World of dolls: “Japan’s Barbie” casts a spell over adults

TOKYO – With her wide eyes and demure smile, Licca-chan is known as “Japan’s Barbie.” And her appeal is spreading to all ages, with adults turning the doll into a social media superstar.

One fan posts crooked videos of the plastic doll to over a million Instagram followers, while others painstakingly create miniature clothes and share photos of their fashion shoots.

Minami Murayama, a 34-year-old housewife who once had ambitions to be a fashion designer, told AFP that her “one-sixth height dream came true” thanks to Licca-chan.

“When I see a stylish woman wearing something that I couldn’t wear because of my age or height, Licca-chan can still wear it and look good,” said Murayama, who owns around 40 dolls and has handcrafted over 1,000 outfit for her.

Licca-chan has been a favorite of Japanese children since she appeared in toy stores in 1967, and manufacturer Takara Tomy has sold over 60 million of them.

The company’s official biography shows her as an 11-year-old girl with a Japanese designer mother and a French musician father.

At 9 inches tall, she’s shorter and less glamorous than Barbie, who Murayama describes as “a supermodel” compared to Licca-chan’s “more familiar” looks.

Murayama spends hours making clothes for her dolls and prefers denim, which her husband helps her bleach and rip to achieve the “distressed” look.

She has built a number of intricate sets using tiny props to decorate mini cafes and fashion studios.

“There are many different jobs I would like to do, like run a coffee shop or a bakery or be a fashion designer,” she said.

“Of course I couldn’t do them all in real life, but I can do them all in a puppet world.”

– “She makes mistakes” –

Murayama is a fan of a popular social media channel whose name translates to “Licca-chan’s real life.”

It features tongue-in-cheek videos and photos of the doll in everyday situations like struggling with an overfilled garbage bag or relaxing at home in her pajamas.

The channel offers an antidote to the idealized life people project online, said its creator, who has over a million Instagram followers but prefers to remain anonymous so her videos don’t get her into trouble at work.

“The Licca-chan in Licca-chan’s Real Life doesn’t live a glamorous life — she lives a real life in a messy room and she makes mistakes,” she told AFP.

“When you show people that even someone like Licca-chan lives that way, it gives them the courage to be comfortable with themselves.”

Takara Tomy isn’t thrilled with “Licca-chan’s Real Life,” saying the videos have “a different worldview” than her strictly proprietary official image of the doll.

But the channel has struck a chord with Licca-chan’s adult fans, who form an online community and trade in handmade clothes and accessories.

Ryoko Baba, a 33-year-old graphic designer, played with Licca-chan as a child and revived her interest about two years ago to relieve stress.

She believes the ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic have given people more time to spend at home with their hobbies and fewer opportunities to leave the house.

“If you want to go out but can’t, you have a lot fewer options for buying new clothes,” she said.

Many people have “satisfied that desire by dressing up in dolls instead,” said Baba, who often recreates outfits from her own wardrobe for her dozens of dolls.

Aware of his growing adult fan base, Takara Tomy has launched a “stylish doll collection” aimed at older customers.

Maruyama said “there are a lot of adults who play with children’s toys” in Japan, where there is “no real separation” between the two, with train set collectors being an example.

Baba, who calls Licca-chan a “national icon,” believes the doll’s appeal will only increase.

“Lately I’ve seen a lot of comments from people saying they don’t know this world exists,” she said.

“I hope I can help spread the word.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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