Tenshi no Sato visit

Just a few days ago we returned from Japan. A trip we long dreamed about. More complete everyday reports will follow too, but we wanted to start with pictures closer to the end of our visit.

On April 18th we visited Tenshi no Sato, famous VOLKS Dollfie place. It is located in a beautiful garden, only open on holidays and weekends and you can only get there with an advance reservation. At most 100 customers can visit in a single day. We wanted to describe it while our memory is still fresh.
This is also the place where our Hina-chan was born.

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п²п╟ п╡я┘п╬п╢п╣ п╡ я│п╟п╢
Right after we entered through the gate we saw this on the right.

This is the place where they have their most complete Dollfie shop of them all, a museum of all dollfies ever released (naturally you cannot take pictures in both of those places). Of course there is also a beauty salon and doll doctors available so if
something is wrong with your doll, it could be fixed or improved.

First exposition in Tenshi no Sato

In addition to the shop and museum there are also two floors where you can take pictures of your dolls. Shooting locations and furniture are supplied by the VOLKS.

Chairs and stands for dolls

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Doll chairs and stands you can use.

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Doll carriages as well as baskets are available so that you can enjoy the visit with your favorite dolls. You can see the furniture on the table too.

It seems people just gather there to socialize and to enjoy each other dolls. Also to take pictures.

Owners

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Some of the owners are pretty extravagant themselves.

That said, lighting conditions on the first floor are pretty awful for the pictures and seeing how people were taking pictures with their small cameras there I just feel pity for them. Some even take pictures on the mobile phones which is only going to further disappoint I guess.
The only somewhat adequate spots were near the window, but then the white balance would be compromised due to two different lighting sources.

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One of the shooting locations with artificial flowers. I actually took these pictures for the owner since the place was extremely bad and she used flash which was going to completely flatten out everything.

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п▓п╩п╟п╢п╣п╩п╣я├ я│ п╨я┐п╨п╩п╬п╧
Surprisingly there were a lot of guys there too.

A lot of pictures of dollfies follows, we don't recognize a lot of these, btw:

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One of the most cute ones from the day.

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п⌠я─я┐п©п©п╟ п╨я┐п╨п╬п╩.
On this picture the left three dolls are actually reincarnation of the same one, just different clothes.

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MDD. The right one is Zero no Louise in disguise.

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This is absolutely gorgeous doll that I was not able to adequately capture unfortunately.

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п я┐п╨п╩я▀ п©п╬я│п╣я┌п╦я┌п╣п╩п╣п╧
Doll baskets. People fill them with a lot of dolls.

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Who said only people could take pictures?

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Also on the first floor there is a cafe where you can have a small cake and a drink. The prices seems to be on par with the rest of the places that sell sweets (read - very expensive. You can have a large ramen or udon bowl for the price of a small piece of cake. I have absolutely no idea why sweets are so expensive in Japan). Surprisingly like most of the places that sell cakes, you cannot get a hot green tea there (only cold). Also somewhat confusingly you need to pay for your cakes in the lobby where you enter and register and then present a special coupon you receive there at the cafe to get your cake.

Given how much time people spend on the premises I must say VOLKS definitely should consider opening a full-blown restaurant, we were pretty hungry by the time we headed out (problem compounded by the lack of breakfast, as it turned to be pretty hard to find any working restaurants in Kyoto in the morning).

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Happy doll owners can enjoy their cakes accompanied by their dolls. A selection of chairs and stands are available at the cafe.

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Some sort of a green tea cake with read beans we had.

п╒п╬я─я┌п╦п╨ я│ п╨п╩я┐п╠п╫п╦п╨п╬п╧
Strawberry cake. Every piece of cake comes complete with a VOLKS placard that you can actually eat.

The shop and Full Choice system counters are located in the basement. Obviously we have no pictures from there. Doll-related selection is indeed wider than in Tokyo VOLKS shops we have been to.

Like everywhere in Kyoto, most of staff has very few English knowledge. One clerk actually read me from a pocket book something like "please wait, my English is not enough, someone will be with you soon". Luckily there is (at least one) person who speaks good enough English. She is usually in the lobby, but could be asked to appear in the shop when needed. That was a saver, since our Japanese is pretty non-existent (less than 200 words). She is very nice and strives to improve her English, so if you ever be there, talk to her in English. But in general all staff is super-nice and friendly, it's just you typically cannot understand most of them.

While there we were very curios how come "Full Choice" system is actually very limited choice, basically you can chose from available parts and the only real customization they can do for you is to draw a face for your doll. No way to get a custom wig or even a wig with custom hairstyle. No way to get custom clothing either.

We asked why and were told that their staff is actually pretty small so not only such custom orders would be super-expensive (even limited-release dolls are made in a couple of hundreds quantities) but FCS orders would take years to complete instead of months now (well, if they strive for quality, I cannot fault them too much for not extending their staff).

Another gotcha in the shop is they have not implemented duty free system there, so even if you are a foreigner you still must pay 5% sales tax (but they are working on fixing this). So I would recommend to do expensive purchases in the VOLKS shops that have the system in place like the shop in Tokyo, Akihabara.

After the shop we visited the dolls museum on the second floor, understandably no pictures from there either.

Surprisingly the only doll that got Ksusha super-impressed was Suiginto from Rozen Maiden series.

On the third floor there is an observation hall where you can also take pictures of your dolls (in designated places). The lighting is better due to a large window. The window has a view of Kyoto.

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Also on the 3rd floor there is "one-off" exhibition where you cannot take any pictures as well. There you can look at the current "one-off" dolls for sale and enter into a lottery for a chance to buy one.

DD Mashiro
DD Mashiro from first floor.

Spotted her on the way to the garden. Tried to have a discussion with owner on how he better move her away from the wall so that the wall is not in focus and the picture would look better. Of course since the owner did not speak any English, he said "muzukashii" a lot to my explanations, which means "too complicated".

So then we went into the garden. It's pretty nice indeed. Also we met a gardener there whose English was better than that of store clerks (but not the translator apparently). By the time we entered the garden the blue sky from the morning turned into grey due to a lot of vapors apparently. Not the real clouds. :(

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The strings you can see are protecting fish from the big birds like herons.

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п÷я┐я┌я▄ п╨ п╡п╬я─п╬я┌п╟п╪ п╫п╟ п╡я▀я┘п╬п╢

п▓ я│п╟п╢я┐
A lot of lights in the garden, so it must be beautiful at night too, though customers are not allowed to stay past 5pm.

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Behind the garden there is an outside area for doll photography right in front of the beauty salon.

When we arrived there, some people were already enjoying taking pictures of their dolls. They were also very accommodating and allowed us to take some pictures of their dolls in various poses too.

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DD Mashiro
While we were exploring the garden, Mashiro was moved to the photo place too.

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п⌡я┐п╦п╥п╟ (Zero no Louise)
Zero no Louise herself.

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The singing Neko girl.

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DD Mashiro

DD Mashiro

п▓п╩п╟п╢п╣п╩п╣я├ п╫п╣п╨п╦-п©п╣п╡п╦я├я▀
The owner of the singing Neko girl had this tripod that we also used.

We also tried to talk to him and his friends, but the discussion was complicated due to a language barrier, though. They were pretty interested in a way we used light bounce to bring details out of shadows though and took some pictures of us taking pictures of their dolls (I guess this really looked strange at times indeed).

He said he has 4 dolls, and his friends had 7 and 10 each. They said they enjoy to "customize" their dolls which turned out to be just using stock parts. Not even changing hair styles. After I tried to convey that that must cost a lot of money for a hobby, one of them said that his monthly salary (I hope after all the important expenses) provides for 40% of one doll price.

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A spot near doll beauty salon.

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This is when I noticed the neko-girl had a tail too. ;)

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We decided to move to the garden to take some more pictures of it.

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Another doll was being photographed there and we joined too.

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Yet another bridge.

п╡п╦п╢ п╫п╟ п╥п╢п╟п╫п╦п╣ Tenshi no Sato
View of the VOLKS building from the garden. The right section is the cafe.

That basically concludes our visit to the Tenshi no Sato. We headed towards Kyoto station to finally have some real food.


Japanese are very inventive to have a garden even if they have no space for it. On of the demonstrations of that.

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At ticket machine met two girls in kimono. (Saga-Arashiyama station).

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Tonkatsu near Kyoto station. First real food of the day (not counting cakes at the Tenshi no Sato).

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Some sort of strawberry cake

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Some dessert made out of pancakes near Kyoto station after the Tonkatsu.

Spent the rest of the day in JR East department store hunting for the gifts and whatnots.

Found absolutely gorgeous plush black cat from "Kiki's delivery service". We were so impressed that decided to buy it despite the size and the cost.

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Comments

Hi! I remember my visit to the store the same day as you! thanks for the photos, they are great!


I am glad that I found again!! I'm Laura from Spain:bigsmile:

Hi! Thanks! I am glad you found this place too ;)