Every day of the year for the past four years Japanese artist Tanaka Tatsuya has been obsessively building tiny, witty worlds by pairing midget figurines with common household objects like toilet paper, vegetables, fruit, straws, and noodles.

The project, entitled “Miniature Calendars,” has a weird, whacko charm that escapes kitsch by the sheer volume and variety of the photographer’s output, and inventiveness of his joyful, improvisatory vision.


Tatsuya says, “Broccoli and parsley might look like a forest…I wanted to take this way of thinking and express it through photographs.

How delightful is this diorama of a crowd of people rushing to escape a sudden downpour… of somen noodles?


Or a surfer chick hanging ten on a tsunami of plastic drafting tools?

"Big Wave"
“Big Wave”

Tatsuya loves playing with scale in his improvised, elfin worlds like this one, where beefy hurdlers compete in a racecourse of staples.

"Hurdle Race"
“Hurdle Race”

In “7”, lovers dash to their tryst in a miniature environment composed of straws bent to resemble the number seven.


I can think of many ways to take this idea and run with it. Building a miniature world could be a great parlor game for kids and adults with each player taking turns adding to the diorama. (It beats the pants off Candyman and Chutes and Ladders.)

When life seems out of control, and the world’s closing in, I often have to remind myself that nothing’s more centering than taking a moment to stop and play.

So I’m thinking, why not be ready when the blues bear down and have an old cigar box on hand filled with a clutch of tiny people whose world you can manipulate. Swiss psychotherapist CG Jung invented his sand play trays for just this reason.

Maybe Tatsuya and Jung have it right about miniature worlds: if you build one, you will heal. Guaranteed, you’ll have fun.

Susan Dworski

Editor’s Note: We found some great tiny toy people by searching “tiny toy people”,  “electric train people”, “miniature toy people” and “HO scale people” on Ebay and Amazon. Dig these HO scale people flying kites!

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4 replies on “Build Miniature Worlds for Fun and…Healing

  1. How do I get help tech help with my subscription? Thanks.

  2. Thanks. Your link didn’t work so we tracked it down. Cool stuff!

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