I fondly remember my Cub Scout years, huddled around a late night campfire sharing scary tales, which I bring up as today we’re examining the Oiwa Oiwa (2016) figure. Inspired by one of the most famous Japanese ghost stories of all time, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan, which was originally written in 1825 as a kabuki play. Altered over time through its many adaptations, the base story usually remains recognizable:

Tamiya Iemon gains the hand of the beautiful Oiwa in marriage through treachery and murder, but Oiwa is disfigured soon after by a topical poison disguised as facial cream. Horrified by her scarred visage, especially her drooping eye, Iemon is eager to be separated from Oiwa and he concocts a plot that ends in his wife’s accidental death.

Cursed with her final breath, Iemon is haunted in a Tell-Tale Heart style, seeing his former wife’s deformed face everywhere. This culminates with Iemon seeking isolation in the mountains where he descends further into madness as Oiwa’s haunting persists, until finally Iemon himself dies.

My Impressions of Oiwa Oiwa

The Oiwa Oiwa figure was designed by Mitomo Hirohito of Japan’s world-renowned Three Tides Tattoo collective. This piece marks the third vinyl sculpture that the tattoo artist group has designed for Secret Base, the other two also being yokai, or supernatural creatures: the monstrous animated umbrella Karakasa Obake (2012) and the massive starving skeleton Sushi Dokuro (2014).

While the roughly 7.75” tall Oiwa Oiwa figure comes in a box that is rather flimsy, I love how HoriHiro draws upon his other artistic love to decorate it: traditional ukiyo-e style painting. HoriHiro, in fact, is an established modern ukiyo-e artist, but he uses the name Hiroshi Hirasawa for that specific work.
Three Tides Tattoo's Oiwa Oiwa - Figure
The actual Oiwa Oiwa figure depicts the deformed ghost emerging from a paper lantern emblazoned with her face, a common element in many of the tale’s adaptations. And to really make this feel special, the paper lantern and ghost’s body are cast in hard vinyl while the face and arms are done in super soft, almost rubber-like vinyl, creating a wonderful contrast in the tactile experience of touching these forms.
But the truly striking element is the rooted doll hair, which gives the form a really horrific visage. Considering Oiwa was an inspiration behind the look of The Ring’s antagonist, Sadako in Japan and Samara in the American version, this feels absolutely appropriate.
Three Tides Tattoo's Oiwa Oiwa - Figure's hair
This original Prototype ver. was released in three different unpainted color combinations, which were randomly boxed and shipped, but I’m assuming painted versions are forthcoming and I’m especially eager to see if the tattoo parlor will once again place their traditional patterns upon their vinyl figure’s form.

Editions of Oiwa Oiwa [show]

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