Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Dolls with Souls

The Japanese have another cause for pride. They've taken the old-fashioned sleaze-merchant's blow-up doll to a new height of high-tech excellence, to "serve as sex substitutes for widowers, the handicapped and other males who are able to function sexually but who, for whatever reason, lack human partners."

They've borrowed an old (and somewhat derogatory) English term for these fetching creatures; Dutch wife. The company that makes them has a Web site that is here. It's obviously creepy on one level, but there's something more complex in the whole picture.

The Japan Times article quotes the company's founder (the "father" of the "girls"):

"If a yome [bride] is no longer needed, we'll discretely take her off a customer's hands at no charge," Tsuchiya adds. "Twice a year we also arrange for a kuyo (Buddhist memorial service) for discarded dolls at the special bodhisattva for dolls at the Shimizu Kannon-do in Ueno Park." Founded in 1631, it's where the "souls" of dolls are consecrated. (Kannon is the Goddess of Mercy.)