ETA: 桃心樂芙 is now closed. :-(
I’m a bit behind on blogging about my adventure to 桃心樂芙 (táo xīn lè fú, English address: Zhongsheng Road, No. 42, 2F, Taoyuan City, Chinese Address: 桃園市, 民生路, 42號, 2F), a doll cafe/workshop/shop/hang-out spot located in Taoyuan (literally, Peach Garden. Mmm… peaches… beautiful… juicy… out-of-season… peaches…).
Our little trip to 桃心樂芙, which seems to cater mostly to Blythe, Pullip, Dal and ball-jointed doll owners, was on Ron’s initiative. I had been a little bit sad since I learned about the demise of the Blythe cafe that used to be located across from the Taiwan Beer Factory here in Taipei just a few weeks after I arrived in August. Ron found out about 桃心樂芙 when he purchased my new Blythe doll, Brunhilda, for me and, sensing the yawning black hole of loss that was renting my consciousness asunder, took me on the 45-minute bus trip to Taoyuan without telling me where we were going (though I did assume we were either headed to some sort of doll-related place, a giant room filled with happy cats, a really big yarn store, or an all-you-can-eat raw oyster extravaganza). Boy, was I ever happy to be once again amongst my people (other doll collectors, not the dolls).
桃心樂芙 features lots of little displays by various vendors of dolly clothing and other accoutrements. My favorites included this little princess display, which featured handcrafted crowns and custom-made dresses…
… and this romantic Goth set-up:
I took my evil twin Catherine Jr. and new girl Brunhilda with us:
They got to sit around in one of the dollhouses that the owner of 桃心樂芙 custom-builds and meet a Kenner and a Hello Harvest:
While I was there, I bought a can of Mr. Super Clear and got Brunhilda lightly spray-matted for free. Here I am admiring her after the procedure:
I’ve been making a mental list of stuff I will miss about Taiwan when I leave in order to counterbalance my homesickness, and one of them is definitely the prevalence of doll culture here, which I think is parceled with the interest in Japanese pop culture (Blythe, Pullip, Dal and BJD dolls are all manufactured in Japan) and kawaii. People don’t seem to freak out as much here as they would in the U.S. when they see grown women dress up, customize or take photos of dolls (“Ahhh! A person with a hobby! Oh no! The humanity! Boo hoo hoo, wah wah wah, blah blah blah…”), and Blythes, Blythe accessories, books and magazines are relatively easy to obtain in Taipei. In fact, there is a store that sells Blythe dolls just three blocks away from my apartment.
I felt shy about taking my Blythe dolls out for photo shoots in the U.S. (a big aspect of Blythe collecting is taking photos of them in Cindy Sherman-esque situations, which was inspired by Blythe’s fairy godmother, Gina Garan), but the only reason I don’t take them out more in Taipei is because I am both lazy and busy, an oxymoronic dilemma that is responsible for much of the morass in my life, alas. I should, though–I’d make more friends and my spoken Mandarin would improve as a result. I have no doubt that once I find a Taiwanese buddy who also loves knitting, furry animals, Blythes and potty jokes, my 口語 will very quickly blossom past the level of a shy ten-year-old’s.
Anyway, for any Blythe collectors and/or cosplay lovers who are reading this post, click here for something that will absolutely blow your mind.