Hokyo-ji and Memorial Service for Dolls


Many precious dolls from the Imperial Palace have been bestowed upon Hokyo-ji, since successive generations of its resident abbesses came from the Imperial family, and the temple retains many dolls of historical significance, including a bequest doll cherished by the emperor Komei (1831-1867). These dolls were not initially available to the public for viewing, but upon receiving fervent requests from both people associated with the temple and the general public, the temple began holding doll exhibitions in the autumn of 1957.

Since then, a grand memorial service for dolls and deceased persons associated with such dolls has been held annually in autumn. Later, a doll mound was also created, and dolls which had become obsolete were brought to the temple for Buddhist services in increasing numbers, resulting in the temple becoming known as the doll temple.

京都旧百々御所宝鏡寺-人形寺- 京都旧百々御所宝鏡寺-人形寺- (Poem by Saneatsu Mushanokoji, engraved on the Stone Monument)

History of the Doll Mound

The history of the Doll Mound is rather recent. In the mid-1950s, the Kyoto Doll Association of Commerce and Industry decided to construct a doll mound in order to promote Kyoto Dolls, and the Doll Mound was established in the compounds of Hokyo-ji in 1959.

The Doll Mound has a significant meaning as a cenotaph erected for the repose of the souls of the deceased who devoted their entire life to creating dolls as well as to the dolls they have created.

Engraved in the stone monument is a lovely Imperial doll called the “Gosho Ningyo,” made by Kanpo Yoshikawa. A poem by Saneatsu Mushanokoji is also engraved on the stone pedestal.

Oh! Dolls!
Albeit I know not who hath crafted ye, nor who hath loved ye;
Yet verily as ye have been lovest, ye shalt enter the true Nirvana.
Saneatsu Mushanokoji

Memorial Services for Dolls How to bring/send dolls to Hokyo-ji

Bringing a doll directly to Hokyo-ji
Reception hours 10:00~15:00 (every day except for the Year-End/New Year holidays)
How to pack the doll Make sure to remove the doll from the glass/wood/paper case protecting it, and put only the doll into a plastic/paper bag, and bring it to the reception desk of Hokyo-ji.
Memorial Service Charges From 3,000 yen
NB: Additional fees may be charged for a heavy or bulky item, owing to the difficulties in burning the doll. Your kind understanding in this matter is highly appreciated.

*As a rough estimate, a doll large enough to require a 45-liter plastic bag to contain it will incur a charge of approx. five thousand yen.

Sending a doll to Hokyo-ji (domestic deliveries only)
Reception Dolls may be sent to Hokyo-ji by the express door-to-door delivery service of any home delivery company in Japan, or by ‘Yu-Pack,’ the domestic parcel delivery service of Japan Post. Dolls shipped from overseas cannot be accepted.
How to pack and send the doll (1)Make sure to remove the doll from the glass/wood/paper case protecting it, and put only the doll into a delivery box of up to the 100 parcel size of Japan Post. Yu-Pack sizes are calculated by adding the length, width and height of the box.(e.g. 30cm x 40cm x 30cm)

*For boxes larger than the 100 parcel size, please contact Hokyo-ji by phone.

(2)Write your name, address, postal code, telephone number and email address on a sheet of paper, and together with the doll, send them to Hokyo-ji.
Memorial Service Charges 5,000 yen per box
Send 5,000 yen to Hokyo-ji by the currency registration service of Japan Post within one week after sending the doll.
Refer to the website of Japan Post for further information (English).
  • *Stuffed animals & animal-shaped dolls are also accepted.
  • *Ornaments, tools, doll stands, and any other items related to the Hina dolls and armored warrior dolls are not accepted. Acceptance is restricted to the dolls only.
  • *Dolls will be burned at a later date, together with other dolls. Until then, religious services (such as chanting Buddhist sutras) will be provided for the dolls every day.
Memorial Services utilizing doll-shaped sheets of paper
Reception hours 10:00~15:00(every day except for the Year-End/New Year holidays)
The Details for requesting a Memorial Service Requests for a memorial service utilizing a doll-shaped sheet of paper are also accepted.
Please submit an application at the reception desk of the temple by writing down your name on the special, doll-shaped sheet of paper provided.
Memorial Service Charges 3,000yen
京都旧百々御所宝鏡寺-人形寺- Dolls offered on the occasion of the Grand Memorial Service for Dolls 京都旧百々御所宝鏡寺-人形寺- Dedicatory dance performance by a Shimabara Tayu courtesan, performed after the religious service.
Grand Memorial Service for Dolls10:30-12:00 October 14

The dolls which are brought to the temple on this day will be lined up together, and the Grand Memorial Service for Dolls will be held. Some of the ashes from the burned doll-shaped sheets of paper will be stored in the Doll Mound on this occasion.

Visitors are encouraged to take part in the religious ceremony, by chanting Buddhist sutras and offering incense. After the memorial service, a dedicatory performance of traditional Japanese musical instruments and dancing is also performed.

*Dolls will be only accepted from 10:00 to 10:30 am on this day.