Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2012

Photo by Ryo Inoki

Though “dollers” have been around some 20 years, people who dress up
as dolls—inside large plastic heads—have traditionally been male. That a pretty, friendly girl is now happy to talk about her lifestyle in this cosplay subgenre has given the practice a wider audience, and doller otaku a new focus for their interest.

Metropolis caught up with Miina at her very first exhibition at the Vanilla Mania bar in Ginza, where she talked openly about herself and her alter-ego.

Do you consider yourself a “doller” or a “cosplayer?”

I like to think myself as a kigurumist [from kigurumi, costume] because I don’t only dress up as two-dimensional beautiful girls. I also dress up as fairies, furry animals and monsters too. I think that dollers dress up as dolls as an extension of cosplay and I don’t want to be categorized as a doller or a cosplayer because I don’t put on an act. I don’t change my character or personality to match my kigurumi as others do.

What have you got on your head?
It’s a mask that covers the whole head. You can try it on. I also wear full-body tights beneath my outfit to cover my skin from head to toe and prevent my dress from wrinkling. But it’s a hassle when going to the toilet, so I try not to drink too much before and during photo shoots.

[Trying on the mask] Wow! You can hardly see or breathe properly with this mask on.

Yes, you could suffocate if you wore it for too long and you can hardly see where you are going. But I don’t mind being led by the hand, usually by photographers. What’s important is I can become something on the borderline between human beings and dolls. I like the idea of existing somewhere between the 2-D and 3-D worlds.

Why wear a mask when you’re so pretty?

I must admit, I think I’m the cutest girl in the world. But I want to keep on pursuing beauty.

Where do you order them and how many masks do you own?

There are many companies that make the masks, but I order mine from Nukopan. I own about ten and I am getting more.

How much do they cost?

Ready-made masks cost up to ¥100,000 or more. I get mine for about half the price because I customize my own mask. I draw details in, such as the eyes and eyebrows, with markers. Eyelashes are cut out of rubber and glued on. The eyes shine because I glued eyeglass lenses on the inside of the mask. The wig is also glued on. Each time I make a new one, I want to give it a totally different look. They all look different, but they are all me—Miina.

Photo by Haruna Shimakaze

When did you start dressing up as a doll?

The first time I tried full-on cosplay was three years ago at Department-H’s costume-themed
party. But I started making my own masks only a year ago.

How often do you dress up?

About two or three times a month. But during the holidays, I dress up more often. I went out a lot during Golden Week in May. I went to the Tsutsuji Matsuri (azalea festival), Botan (peony) Matsuri, and Fuji (wisteria) Matsuri. I love the concept of beautiful girls surrounded by flowers.

How many dollers are out there?

I don’t know the exact number but I hear that the numbers are increasing. Some say there are about one thousand.

Where do you want to go next?

Everywhere. As you could see from the photos and posters shown at my exhibition and website, I want to show I can go anywhere as a doll. I’ve been to an onsen with my birthday suit, somebody’s graduation party dressed in traditional hakama, a ramen shop, you name it.

Where can we see you next?

I always announce before I go to Department-H parties and other events. Follow me on Twitter and www.ameblo.jp/renchinko.