Doll makers decry USJ’s use of traditional dolls in haunted house

Kyodo

An association of Japanese doll manufacturers has expressed its displeasure with Universal Studios Japan, in Osaka, saying the American film studio theme park is tarnishing the image of traditional dolls by using them in a haunted house attraction.

The Tokyo-based group said Tuesday it sent a letter of protest to USJ a day earlier. In it, the group said the attraction “treats Japanese dolls as cursed or scary objects, hindering the business of doll manufacturers and retailers.”

USJ Co., the operator of the theme park said the park has no plans to cancel the horror attraction, which started Sept. 10 as part of its Halloween events.

“We see no legal basis in the protest so the attraction will continue until Nov. 6 as scheduled,” a USJ spokesman said, but added the company views the protest as “valuable feedback.”

The letter was also sent to Awashima Shrine in the city of Wakayama, which leased hundreds of dolls to the theme park for use in the attraction. The shrine is known for having tens of thousands of dolls on its premises.

“Japanese dolls are excellent works of art. The attraction gives a wrong, negative impression of them to the general public, and also destroys traditional culture,” the letter argued.

The “Tatari: Curse of the Living Dolls” attraction is touted as “J horror,” which takes its setting in a deserted Japanese village. According to the company, visitors walk through a maze-like course to feel “absolute horror.”

Some 400 doll manufacturers and retailers across the nation are members of the association.

In the past, the association made a similar protest about a television program in which the hair of Japanese dolls kept growing.

The association said the scale of the attraction at USJ is large and thus “cannot be overlooked.”