Finally! As I already hinted in the last post; the mystery Winky Doll has a name thanks to the web searching skills of colleague José. May I introduce you to... 'Dakko-chan'!
Dakko-chan (literally: 'embraceable') first saw the light of day in Japan. The inflatable character became an instant craze in the early 1960's when a teenage girl clenched the 12" winky doll to her arm while she was strolling around the popular shopping district Ginza, in Tokyo. Dakko-chan, available in a girl (hair bow) and a boy (no bow) version, was designed to be a small kids toy but became immensely popular amongst teenagers and young mothers. In two months 300,000 pieces were sold and in no-time the demand outran the production of 7000 pieces a day. Customers formed long queues at the stores in order to get their hands on a 50¢ Dakko-chan.
Dakko-chan was invented by Yoshihiro Suda, for Japan's toymaking Tsukudaya Company. The stereotype ethnic design of the character was explained by Japanese intellectuals as the rising popularity of jazz music in Japan of that time. Novelist Tensei Kawano stated (quote): "We of the younger generation are outcasts from politics and society. In a way we are like negroes, who have a long record of oppression and misunderstanding, and we feel akin to them."