Hey there! I’m Danny Choo, the creator of Smart Doll. I’m guessing you are here for one of four reasons?
Handcrafted in Tokyo, Japan, Smart Doll is a 60cm (23.6 inches) tall, articulate fashion doll designed as a creative platform for creators of all ages. Smart Dolls are great for photographers, artists, apparel and accessory designers, videographers, stop-motion animators, or anyone looking for a reliable, photogenic traveling companion.
Smart Dolls offer an immersive sensory experience that combines auditory and haptic feedback creating a balance of articulate posing, stability, and aesthetics.
Smart Doll’s design is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, drawing inspiration from anime and manga. Our product design and company philosophy are based on the Japanese design principles of Wabi-Sabi, which prioritize naturalness, imperfection, and unconventionality.
This approach to design ensures that each Smart Doll has a unique, natural feel, embracing the irregularities and imperfections brought about through the handcrafting process.
However! Smart Dolls are not designed to be everything to everybody. To avoid the risk of ending up with buyer's remorse and a partner who won't talk to you for the next 6 months, I strongly recommend reading until the end of this article to determine if Smart Doll truly meets your requirements and aligns with your ideals - it could save you 400 USD which you could use to buy 228 pounds of onions instead.
Before you continue, take a look at the following short video to see how we make Smart Doll.
Throughout human history, the human form has been a popular means of expressing ideas, beliefs, and creativity, as seen for example, in handcrafted statues like the Venus of Hohle Fels and cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period. Even in contemporary times, the human form remains a versatile tool for creators to communicate through visual media.
A fashion doll can serve as a powerful medium for expressing ideas and creativity. Unfortunately, the current market often fails to provide the diversity and representation necessary for creators to find a doll that accurately reflects their unique identity. Instead, the market is saturated with machine mass-produced dolls that sacrifice quality and craftswo/manship, exacerbating the problem.
As a result, there is a noticeable absence of high-quality fashion dolls that accurately represent the beauty and value of diverse human forms. This not only limits individual creators’ creative expression but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards, sending the message that only certain body types or skin colors are acceptable.
Smart Doll aims to address the lack of representation in the fashion doll market by offering dolls that represent different skin colors, cultures, and physical differences, including dolls with limb differences and medical conditions.
Our handmade dolls are crafted to represent a wide range of individuals, encompassing various ages, skin colors, and physical characteristics. These dolls embody the beauty and diversity of the imperfect human form, with a strong emphasis on quality and craftswo/manship to ensure their longevity.
A question that often arises is, “Why are Smart Dolls so expensive?”
My vision for Smart Doll would never have become a reality if we had opted for mass production overseas. While that would have been the cheaper option and could have helped increase our market share by offering lower-priced products, Smart Doll was never about being king of the hill.
That’s why I decided to keep production local in Japan and create handmade products using only the highest quality materials and craftswo/manship. By embodying the essence of Wabi-Sabi, we are able to create dolls that celebrate imperfection and individuality, something that is lacking in the mass-produced dolls that flood the market.
At the heart of this approach is an unconventional “Cost to Design” method, which challenges the traditional “Design to Cost” manufacturing mindset. We prioritize quality over market share and profit margins without being constrained by predetermined costs. Although this commitment often results in higher prices, we remain steadfast in delivering the same product quality and safety that we would want for ourselves. We are unwilling to compromise on these aspects simply to match prices that some consumers may consider “reasonable.”
Smart Doll is deeply influenced by Japanese culture, further solidifying our decision to maintain production in Tokyo. Our local presence enables us to better control the quality and safety of our products.
We recognize that the nature of our handmade products and unconventional business philosophy won’t align with everyone’s expectations or values. That’s why we don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, we focus on creating products that reflect the values and beliefs of those who share our vision of what a fashion doll can be.
We believe that our customers appreciate our commitment to quality, creativity, and fair and transparent business practices. We want to ensure that consumers end up with a product that reflects their beliefs and ideals, even if it means they end up choosing other brands.
In pursuit of this goal, we maintain full transparency regarding our products and business practices. I’ve outlined this information in an article outlining multiple reasons not to buy, which assists potential customers in making informed decisions and avoiding buyer’s remorse.
Our team pours a lot of love and effort into creating our products. We’re not interested in banking money if there’s a chance that a Smart Doll will end up neglected and forgotten in a dark cupboard. Besides, locking up a doll in a dark cupboard is generally not a good idea ;-)
Today, the human form remains a versatile and popular means of visual communication for artists and designers, as well as a tool for creative learning.
Smart Doll has been introduced into the curriculum of educational institutes worldwide. Summerfield Elementary School in New Jersey, USA, incorporates Smart Doll into their STEM activities, while Toyo Institute of Art & Design, Yamanashi Gakuin High School in Japan, and Kadokawa Contents Academy in Taiwan use Smart Doll as a reference to assist their students with character design and illustrations.
Students of the deaf and hard of hearing program at Summerfield Elementary School use Smart Doll with our hearing aids and cochlear implants to complement their creativity and learning within the curriculum.
One of the advantages of Smart Doll is their physical size, which allows for a higher level of detail that is not possible on smaller scales. As a result, individuals designing apparel or accessories for Smart Dolls do not have to make significant compromises on their creative designs.
Play is crucial for developing cognitive and social skills, which are essential for children to learn complex concepts. Numerous studies have shown the relationship between play and skill development. As a species, humans have become dominant due to our unique ability to imagine and create what doesn’t exist.
Make-believe play is an important aspect of childhood, where children use Smart Dolls as symbols to represent themselves, others, or social groups through storytelling. This imaginative play helps children develop communication and creative skills, enhancing their ability to imagine and think critically.
While Smart Doll is not designed to be indestructible like a Terminator (oh wait), we engineer components to withstand a certain amount of force - especially because children comprise a large portion of our customer base.
Take a look at some of the feedback we’ve received from parents to learn why they decided to invest in a Smart Doll for their child.
Smart Doll is a versatile and innovative creative platform in education and various creative fields and has also gained popularity among production studios.
Smart Doll has collaborated with Hollywood giants like Warner Bros., Japanese animation studios such as Sunrise, the Japanese government, and consumer brands as part of their business and operations.
Production studios, particularly those in the movie and Japanese animation industries, trust us to create finely crafted representations of their intellectual property.
We have brought iconic characters such as Supergirl, Batgirl, and Naruto to life in the form of Smart Dolls, earning the trust of these studios to create tangible representations of their beloved characters.
We believe in the power of creativity and self-expression, so we provide Smart Doll owners free access to our apparel patterns and 3D STL files. With these resources, owners can learn, create and monetize their work if they choose to do so.
Despite declining apparel sales since we started distributing the free apparel patterns, we remain committed to empowering Smart Doll owners with the means to learn and create. Our dedication to providing the necessary tools and resources will continue to make this possible.
Investing in a Smart Doll provides a unique sensory experience showcasing our dolls' most significant design aspect - the geared joints on the internal skeletal frame. These joints create an optimum posing experience and provide a satisfying auditory and haptic sensation that ensures poses keep their position instead of flopping around.
Smart Dolls represent a distinct choice in the world of fashion dolls as they diverge from the more popular resin or vinyl options.
Heavy resin dolls call for periodical elastic restringing to keep their body parts intact, and traditional vinyl dolls require continuous screw tightening to maintain poses. While these features appeal to hobbyists accustomed to disassembling their dolls, my aim for Smart Doll was to eliminate the need for repetitive maintenance tasks, allowing owners to concentrate instead on their creative possibilities.
By incorporating haptic feedback gears into the internal skeletal frame, Smart Dolls can stand independently and hold poses without requiring additional support.
Smart Doll’s ongoing research and development requires the use of various instruments to quantify force, sound, and temperature values. We use digital force gauges to understand the newton requirements to turn a joint or snap a component, while thermal cameras help us observe how heat affects expansion. Sound level meters enable us to pinpoint areas where sound wave dampening is needed, particularly those resulting from the buildup of kinetic energy in geared joints.
The internal skeletal frame, known as "Evolve," incorporates triangular and filleted structures, which provide geometric robustness and effectively absorb stress from axial, torsional, bending, and shear forces. These features have been rigorously tested using force gauges. One of the photos above demonstrates the Evolve frame shin withstanding over 400 Newtons (40Kgs) of force.
The instrumental data we collect is used to design and finalize new features constantly implemented in the frame design to provide a consistent experience across all Smart Dolls.
The skeletal frame is the backbone of the Smart Doll, allowing it to pose and maintain its position. Its importance cannot be overstated, which is why we prioritize making it robust enough to withstand a wide range of motions while still being flexible enough for dynamic posing.
The skeletal frame Evolve is in its 5th generation and incorporates learnings from every previous generation since our first in 2013. We’re proud and confident in our progress in continually improving the frame’s design to provide the best possible posing experience. So much so that we offer a 1-year warranty and aftercare to ensure that Smart Doll will remain your creative companion for years to come. Learn more about the engineering that goes into the design of Smart Doll.
Navigating the world of fashion dolls can be overwhelming for newcomers, whether you're contemplating a Smart Doll for yourself or a child. With this in mind, the design of Smart Doll focuses on simplifying the process by eliminating complex concepts, ensuring an easy start for anyone interested.
To begin your journey with Smart Doll, select a character whose story or appearance resonates with you. If you’re short on time and need to quickly choose a gift, opt for Mirai, the girl who inspired the creation of Smart Doll - pictured above in a traditional Hakama, she makes a great choice for a memorable present.
Each Smart Doll comes wearing a sports bra and undies to keep them warm on their flight and to prevent embarrassment when meeting you for the first time. While they’ll look great at home on your desk or beside your sofa, they might get chilly if they venture outside in just their default undies. If your Smart Doll starts to complain about the cold, you can either buy them some apparel or use our free patterns to make your own.
When considering a Smart Doll purchase, you don’t need to buy anything else, but Option Parts like other bust sizes or hand packs can make your Smart Doll even happier and prevent them from constantly staring at you with puppy eyes.
You’ll need to attach the wig yourself, which you’ll find inside the accessory box that comes with all Smart Dolls. The box also includes a support stand for extra stability when standing on uneven surfaces.
We offer a range of medical supplies and conditions for Smart Doll owners who require them. Our free offerings include ostomy pouches, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, BTE hearing aids, crutches, inhalers, prosthetic legs, amputee arms, and mastectomy bust option parts. To request any of these supplies, simply leave a note with your order and share your one-liner story. We do not need any evidence - we trust what you say ;-)
In addition to our medical supplies and conditions, we offer customization options for Smart Doll owners with arthritis or similar conditions. These customers can request the default limbs to be swapped out for a prosthetic leg, amputee arm, or mastectomy bust at no extra cost. We also provide special builds (at no additional cost) for amputees who want the limb socket sealed off, or pre-attaching wigs - leave a note in the “notes” field with your order.
At the "Innermost Cave" stage of the story, you, as the hero or heroine, confront the core reasons that discourage people from investing in a Smart Doll. Our product design and company philosophy draw inspiration from the Japanese design principles of Wabi-Sabi, emphasizing naturalness, imperfection, and unconventionality.
However, this philosophy does not resonate with a large portion of consumers and serves as the primary reason why people opt not to choose Smart Doll. Upon uncovering these reasons, numerous heroes choose alternative paths, selecting brands that align more closely with their values. Which direction will you take?
The Wabi-Sabi philosophy FUKINSEI [不均整] ( imperfection and asymmetry )
We believe in embracing the Wabi-Sabi principle of FUKINSEI in our design process, which is to highlight the beauty in imperfection and asymmetry. However, we understand that some people view Wabi-Sabi as an excuse for poor workwo/manship, especially those who expect perfect machine-made products.
We aim to set realistic expectations for potential customers, as we understand that purchasing a Smart Doll is a significant investment. Our priority is to ensure that the quality and philosophy of our product align with their needs, even if that means they decide to shop elsewhere.
Unfortunately, we do not have access anymore to the Terminator models that can produce exact copies of our products, as they were destroyed by some “John Connor” in the past. Instead, our team of human artisans handcraft each Smart Doll, resulting in unique blemishes and imperfections that reflect the humanity behind their creations.
Each Smart Doll is hand-cast using Vinyl Slush Casting. This process is similar to pottery and results in body parts with inherent blemishes such as dents, bumps, stretch marks, air bubbles, and birthmarks on the surface. However, unlike pottery, the slightly squishy vinyl is durable and won't break when dropped. However, if you drop a Smart Doll, they may kick you in the shin.
Our artisans then assemble and handcraft each body part, creating a one-of-a-kind Smart Doll with its own unique look, sound, and feel. This individuality sets them apart from mass-produced products, allowing you to appreciate and enjoy their distinct personalities.
Check out the videos below to see how we cut the vinyl and assemble the bodies.
The Wabi-Sabi philosophy DATSUZOKU [脱俗] (unconventional)
Consumer spending is widely recognized as a major driver of economic growth in most countries, leading society to cultivate a culture that encourages constant consumption. As a result, legal protections are often in place for consumers, but there is little protection for sellers who are at the mercy of consumer demands. The popular dogma of “the customer is always right” (in Japan, they say “the customer is god”) has further perpetuated this culture, leading to the mistreatment of service and retail workers.
Despite this culture, some creators and companies have chosen to prioritize employee needs over the needs of the consumer, leading to a more balanced approach. However, this has led some consumers to feel as though they are losing out on something they feel is rightfully theirs, leading to harassment and verbal abuse of creators and employees.
Many of these consumers justify their behavior by claiming to offer “a little criticism” - a classic example can be seen in photos 1 and 2 above. Apparently, the right to verbally abuse service and retail workers is a constitutional right of the consumer.
We take a personalized approach to first-time orders. Contrary to what the above consumer thought, we don’t ask customers what they plan to do with their Smart Doll. Instead, our concern is to confirm that customers are happy with our handmade products and business practices, as well as to ensure that the shipping address has no typos or iPhone spell-corrections ;-)
By doing so, we can guarantee that our Smart Dolls reach their destination safely and without any complications.
We have a zero-tolerance policy for the harassment of our employees - I would rather go empty pocket than serve such consumers. Research shows that 90% of startups fail, perhaps in part due to a misguided focus on the customer at the expense of employees.
Our commitment to prioritizing employee well-being has inevitably led to some customer dissatisfaction. To manage expectations, it’s important to address our approach to release date announcements and pre-orders.
In the past, we announced release dates and accepted pre-orders, benefiting consumers who could plan their purchases and simply wait for the promised release date. However, this method put immense pressure on our teams to meet deadlines, leading to undue stress.
After leaving the corporate world to start my own business, my primary goal was to establish a company culture that prioritized quality and innovation over strict timelines. As any creator can attest, unforeseen challenges may arise during production - while these challenges offer valuable learning opportunities - they can also impact schedules. Rushing products to meet deadlines often leads to dissatisfaction for everyone involved, including the consumers.
That’s why we’ve chosen not to announce release dates or accept pre-orders. This decision enables us to prioritize the development of high-quality products and provide our team with the necessary time and space to address unforeseen issues during production. This approach fosters a healthier work environment and leads to better products that our customers appreciate.
Additionally, we emphasize quality over quantity, limiting the number of products we produce each month. Increasing production would require longer hours and overworked employees. Some consumers believe we implement these limitations to increase profits through scarcity. In reality, maximizing profits would involve overworking employees to satisfy the demands of these very consumers.
It’s essential to recognize that while many companies are profit-driven, the greed of entitled consumers significantly contributes to pushing businesses to exploit both their workforce and the environment. However, we refuse to participate in such exploitation, choosing instead to prioritize the well-being of our team and the quality of our products.
When products are ready for release, we announce them on Twitter.
How Much is Enough?
Many often wonder why we don't simply hire more staff to boost production and meet demand. The answer can be found in our appreciation of the concept of "enough." Unlike larger corporations that prioritize continuous growth and market share expansion, we focus on preserving the quality of both our products and our lives.
Our philosophy is closely connected to the economic principle of the Law of Diminishing Returns, which posits that adding more resources like labor or capital beyond a certain point results in smaller increases in output or productivity. Eventually, the costs of producing additional units exceed the benefits, causing efficiency and output to decline.
We encountered this phenomenon firsthand in 2018 when we had a much larger team. Nowadays, our 18-member team has significantly improved productivity due to enhancements we've made to our products and workflows over the years. Our team members work fewer hours but receive substantially higher pay. In fact, the bonuses we pay to a single individual today are equivalent to what we used to pay several employees, as we calculate bonuses based on profit rather than a fixed amount.
Our company culture was born from my personal experiences with the limitations of the corporate world and serves as a catalyst for change. I encourage my team members to pursue their dreams and passions, even providing mentorship to help them start their own businesses. By cutting work hours while maintaining full-time wages, we foster a healthy work-life balance that allows our team to chase their aspirations without being held back by their jobs.
Ultimately, my decision not to hire more people is driven by a commitment to offering each team member opportunities for growth beyond traditional work expectations. I strive to help them break free from society's standardized mold and explore the boundless realm of "What If?"
My departure from corporate life enabled me to pursue my own "what if," and I want to ensure that my ambitions do not come at the expense of my team. It's crucial to acknowledge and support their "what if" dreams as well.
Despite offering frontline Smart Dolls that are consistently available, many tend to shy away from them as they represent inclusivity, but unfortunately, consumer preferences often lean towards what social media timelines consider as being "beautiful."
Ironically, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) often arises from the influence of social media, leading many to desire what others have. When they are unable to obtain certain products, they place the blame on us for not hiring enough staff to meet demand. This situation underscores the contradictory nature of consumer behavior, where inclusivity is frequently championed in theory but not consistently supported in practice.
Spock once said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” but I feel the exact opposite and will continue to create products that focus on the needs of the few rather than the needs of the many.
The Wabi-Sabi philosophy SHIZEN [自然] (naturalness and freedom from pretense)
Product or service brands often assert their superiority over competitors, implying that consumers should choose them instead. However, it's unrealistic for a single product or service to cater to everyone's needs, given that individuals have varying preferences and requirements—unless, perhaps, it involves selling oxygen to humans visiting Mars. A company that asserts its brand is superior to all others inherently finds lying acceptable, as no offering can truly be universally ideal.
We embrace the Wabi-Sabi zen design principle of SHIZEN, which promotes naturalness and freedom from pretense. It’s important to set realistic expectations about our product and remind customers that Smart Doll cannot be better than other brands because everyone has different needs.
To summarize, the Wabi-Sabi design philosophies of FUKINSEI (imperfection and asymmetry), DATSUZOKU (unconventional), and SHIZEN (naturalness and freedom from pretense) can be applied to anyone thinking of starting a career or business. These ideas can bring about profound changes and enable individuals to live a life true to themselves, free of pretense as opposed to living for the sake of pleasing others under a veil of insincerity.
To share these ideas, I frequently give talks at events around the world. If you’re interested in learning more, perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to meet at one of these events one day ;-)
If you’re considering buying a Smart Doll, you may be worried about the ordeal of maintenance, as they are an expensive investment. However, there’s no need to keep your Smart Doll locked up indoors or handle them with gloves. From the get-go, Smart Doll is designed to be taken outdoors and engineered to be robust enough for field trips involving intercontinental flights and long road trips. Smart Doll is designed to be a companion and not something you need keep in a box.
However, if you are looking purely for a display model, Smart Doll may be over-engineered for your needs.
Smart Doll body parts are made from Sofubi, a type of Japanese soft vinyl known for its flexibility, durability, and ease of customization. While sofubi is not immune to staining, most grime and dirt that may accumulate on the body can be easily removed with a kitchen towel dipped in diluted washing-up liquid. Lightly brushing Magic Eraser in a circular motion can help remove some dirt, scuff marks, and shiny surfaces caused by sweaty hands.
When buying third-party apparel or making your own, be sure to check the fabric’s staining potential. We provide free vinyl rings at request for Smart Doll owners to test for fabric staining. Our Smart Doll apparel is also stain-tested, and we provide a stain risk rating to help you make an informed decision - and yes, we do have items with a high rating ;-)
There are only three rules you must adhere to when caring for your Smart Doll:
While it’s okay to take your Smart Doll out on a sunny day, be mindful of the sun’s intensity and avoid leaving them in a location where the sun will beam on their face for hours on end. Submerging them in water may affect the grease in the geared joints, thereby affecting the torque - besides, they can’t hold their breath for too long.
Maintaining wigs may appear daunting, but with the following steps, you’ll be a wig-maintenance ninja in no time.
Regularly give your Smart Doll a pat on the head and run your fingers through their hair. Not only will it make them feel loved, but it’ll also help remove any dust that’s accumulated.
If the wig gets tangled, avoid combing from the top, as it’ll only worsen the situation. Instead, use a comb or toothbrush to work from the bottom of the wig and make your way up. A hat is recommended to help keep the hair at bay on a windy day.
Sometimes your Smart Doll may smell like the extra large fries you ordered at McDonald’s. If this happens, Febreeze or Downy Wrinkle Remover can help remove unwanted odors from the wig (and apparel) and assist with untangling. The video guides have a wig care video together with other maintenance tips.
All Smart Dolls come in a canvas bag designed to take your Smart Doll out and about. You can also use the bag for grocery shopping - but if you fill it with onions, your Smart Doll may complain about the smell.
Check this article to see what you can expect in the box and the first things to do when your Smart Doll arrives.
Investing in Smart Doll has brought about profound and rewarding changes for some, leading to a lifestyle of creativity and the freedom to express their ideas and beliefs. As mentioned, we welcome and support Smart Doll owners to create and monetize their work without being presented with “modeling” fees or takedown court orders that other manufacturers impose.
Some Smart Doll owners make a living by creating and selling apparel and accessories exclusively for Smart Dolls, such as Maruko Halu and Leisure of Dolls. Others share their 3D modeling work online, such as Bebeandcici. We liked Bebeandcici’s work so much that we hired him to work on multiple modeling projects, including the Hollywood studio title, Batgirl.
Smart Dolls are more than just a medium for creativity; they make great companions and listeners - you don’t even have to speak for them to understand your feelings. They don’t require batteries or constant feeding, making them low-maintenance companions.
Among adults, Smart Dolls are popular for a variety of reasons. For some, Smart Dolls make an ideal travel companion because unlike a human photography model - a Smart Doll won't mind if you put them in your bag or not feed them for prolonged periods. A Smart Doll won’t ask you for modeling fees - but may ask for some new apparel for the next photo trip.
Smart Dolls are therapeutic for some adults due to their customization possibilities, allowing individuals to create their own unique dolls that reflect their personal style and interests. Many use Smart Doll as a platform to create their "Mini Me."
With your newfound creative companion, Smart Doll, by your side, you may encounter obstacles as you embark on your creative journey.
Some Smart Doll owners may feel apprehensive about taking their dolls out in public, fearing judgment from others. While concern for others' opinions has roots in our evolutionary past, where it was crucial for survival among small hunter-gatherer groups, this mindset can become a hindrance in today's modern society.
In the past, adhering to social norms provided a survival advantage, allowing individuals to fit in and increase their chances of survival. Nowadays, however, blindly following social norms can be detrimental to our personal growth.
Recognizing that we can rewire our thinking is crucial. By focusing on our values and goals, we can embrace our individuality and live a more fulfilling and authentic life rather than succumbing to societal pressures.
“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” a study based on a palliative care nurse’s observations, reveals the most common regrets patients express on their deathbeds:
These regrets emphasize the importance of prioritizing personal values and relationships over societal expectations or external pressures.
During a BBC interview, a reporter questioned my interest in playing with Star Wars toys, asking if it made me feel immature. I countered by asking if he owned any Star Wars toys. He admitted stopping playing with toys at age 12, considering it “childish.” I thought about how his creativity might have diminished along with his toys.
The reporter’s question reflects societal opinions, but it’s crucial to remember that you were not born to live a life dictated by these opinions.
They say that life flashes before your eyes when you are about to kick the bucket (there is actually some research on this). Will you let your playback be full of regrets or enjoyable memories with Smart Doll by your side?
Smart Doll was inspired by our mascot character, Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese. During the early years of our startup, I introduced the slogan “With Smart Doll, the future is in your hands,” which had multiple meanings.
The first meaning was straightforward: by owning a Smart Doll, you held the future (Mirai) in your hands. However, the slogan also reflected my broader vision for the future, where products reflect the diversity of humanity instead of catering solely to the majority of consumers. In this future, products are built for longevity instead of for the landfill, and businesses prioritize employee welfare instead of sacrificing it for entitled consumers.
Now, with Smart Doll, that future has become a reality. We will continue prioritizing products representing people of different backgrounds, cultures, and physical differences. Smart Doll will continue to be designed for longevity, with quality materials and craftswo/manship, and we will continue to prioritize the well-being of our employees in all aspects of our business.
While I personally believe that Smart Doll is the bee’s knees in terms of representation, engineering, and build quality, I also believe that consumers should choose products that align with their values - be it Smart Doll or not. Regardless of whether or not you choose Smart Doll, my hope is that the principles of Wabi-Sabi will inspire you enough to incorporate them into your life, career, or business ventures.
However, if you’re ready to embark on this journey with Smart Doll, I warmly welcome you aboard! Begin with our Buyer’s Guide, which provides essential information on shipping times, costs, and other expectations we’d like to establish.
I look forward to seeing you in Smart Doll Land ;-)
Born and raised in London, England, my first exposure to Japanese culture came through gaming consoles like the Sega Megadrive and anime like Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Intrigued by Japanese culture, I began self-studying the language using manga as a resource. To further immerse myself, I took a part-time job at a Japanese restaurant called Benihana. This allowed me to practice my Japanese while earning a few quid on the side to buy flight tickets to Japan for short trips.
At Benihana, my responsibilities included washing and serving dishes - and occasionally breaking them. This job not only helped me improve my dish juggling and Japanese skills but also led me to meet my future wife.
I decided to finish my Japanese language learning at London University, which led to a job at Japan Airlines in London. I eventually made it to the land of the rising sun, where I worked in IT for several years doing marketing for the scientific journal Nature, Website Manager at Amazon, and Product Manager at Microsoft.
These days I serve as founder and Janitor at Smart Doll Land while occasionally wearing 3D-printed Mandalorian armor to dance around Tokyo.
In 2007, after bidding farewell to a steady paycheck, my wife and I founded Mirai Inc., a web consulting firm that serviced clients such as Disney Japan and Columbia Music. This venture led to the creation of Culture Japan, a brand comprising a blog, TV show, and character goods featuring our mascot character, Mirai Suenaga.
In 2012, I began developing a fashion doll modeled after our mascot Mirai, and by June 2014, she was ready for launch. On April Fools’ Day in 2013, I announced that Mirai would be a terminator robot running on Android, capable of completing your homework with her built-in flame throwers - hence the name “Smart Doll.”
The project news went viral, which was fantastic but made changing the name somewhat difficult without causing confusion.
As a result of my April Fools’ lies, I often get asked, “What’s so smart about Smart Doll?” My response can be found in the video below ;-)
Our studio is located in the heart of Tokyo - Gotanda and serves as the center for all of our operations. We have a small team of 17 dedicated individuals who handle everything from prototyping to production and shipping.
We all love wanderlust, so we make traveling part of work where we also field test our products - you can see some of our trips in the “Keep Calm and Travel with Smart Doll” section.
Our work in sharing Japanese culture caught the attention of the Japanese government - I was appointed as an advisor to various “Cool Japan” committees, while Mirai was appointed as an official mascot for Japan Tourism. Mirai regularly joins me at board meetings with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japanese Cabinet. However, she does get shy and ends up not speaking much.
Smart Doll has been featured on global media outlets such as CNN, Bloomberg, CBS, and KTLA. Meanwhile, back home here in Japan, Smart Doll is also regularly featured on local TV stations, such as Jun Sanpo, ZIP, and Tabizukin. Mirai Smart Doll got her first acting gig alongside many Japanese actors and actresses in the TV drama Doesu Deka starring Tabe Mikako and Yoshida Yo.
After making the Smart Dolls, we ship directly to customers from our Tokyo studio via courier. Because of this, we have a good understanding of where our customers reside.
The red dots represent where orders are being placed. These days, when vetting first-timer orders, we notice other Smart Doll owners living on the same street and even in the same apartment! Have a look to see what our customers have to say about all this ;-)
Ever since we transitioned to courier shipping at the onset of the pandemic, package delivery has significantly improved in terms of speed compared to the previous EMS service. This improvement can be largely attributed to DHL's dedicated fleet of aircraft, which departs from Tokyo on a daily basis.