A beloved stuffed animal is irreplaceable. But over the years they suffer wear and tear, and the damage can be severe. The attachment their owners feel makes replacement out of the question. And so Hakozaki Natsumi opened her stuffed animal hospital. Carefully restoring what, for her clients, are members of the family, she calls what she does treatment, not repair. And she now helps restore patients sent in by people from all over the world.
Since ancient times, the Japanese have believed that a life force resides in all creations.
Valuing and caring for the things we use, a "Zero Waste Life."
Pointing the way to better living for a new era.
I don't want the memories to fade.
Repairing stuffed animals is something
I can do to make others happy.
Kanda, central Tokyo.
It's the location for a rather unique hospital.
A hospital run by Hakozaki Natsumi.
The boxes she carries...
It's Nameko the mushroom.
...contain stuffed toys.
She's in pretty bad shape.
This "patient" is 45 years old.
In fact, this hospital specializes in stuffed animals.
Hakozaki takes in and treats these lifelong companions for their owners when they're deteriorated or damaged.
Treatment is handled by 6 stuffed toy specialists, including Hakozaki herself, who see nearly 100 patients a month.
Their expert care has been requested from Asia and Europe as well as Japan.
Although treatment can cost hundreds of dollars, it's in such demand that there's a 6-month waiting list.
The worse shape a toy is in,
the better it feels to restore it.
The sense of accomplishment
that you get is truly profound.
Before any treatment begins, there's an important first step.
Before we can work on them
they need to be given a bath.
It isn't just about removing stains.
When they've been around a long time,
because they're made of cloth, the weave can become distorted.
Soaking them realigns the fibers,
straightening the mesh.
It's a very important step.
Once out of the bath, treatment begins.
There's a clear plan for every treatment.
Restuffing is done with precision, so as not to differ from the original amount by even a single gram.
When resewing, they make sure to use the same holes as the original stitching.
They take every precaution to ensure the shape remains unchanged.
Some new patients have just arrived.
These two teddy bears.
One, quite badly damaged, that had been refused by other repair shops, sent here as a last resort.
Tomizawa Kaori is their owner.
Nearly 30 years old, it was her eldest son's favorite toy.
I asked the original maker to fix it,
but they couldn't do it.
I bought it when my son was born
and he loved it from the start.
It would be wonderful if it could be
as cute as it was back then again.
It's a very serious case.
The eyes are missing and there are
quite a few other serious injuries.
I'll sew them up as best I can and reinforce
the body against further injury.
We'll restore him to good health.
There's a reason she's willing to take on such difficult cases.
Ever since she was little, she's been surrounded by stuffed animals.
I've always loved them.
I would sew clothes for them
or make knitted hats.
They were always with me.
After finishing dressmaking school, she worked in clothing restoration for a fabric company.
I was mainly repairing clothing,
but I sometimes fixed stuffed toys.
I really loved that kind of work.
It made people so happy they cried.
Like welcoming a family member
back home from the hospital.
These experiences inspired her to open her stuffed animal hospital.
Some like-minded classmates from dressmaking school joined in her efforts.
I saw how hard she was working.
I thought the shop was doing something
worthwhile, so I wanted to help if I could.
It looked rewarding and fun,
so I joined them.
To date, the teamwork of this dedicated group of friends has helped restore over 15,000 stuffed animals.
After two months, the day of discharge has come for this once very sick bear.
The prognosis: a complete recovery.
Here they are. Sorry for the wait.
Wow! All better!
They said it was impossible.
This makes me so happy!
Sure you could just buy a new one
but they all have a history.
No matter how dirty or tattered,
they're treasure to me.
I guess you'd call it love.
They're like family.
Discharged from the hospital, the bears are safely back home.
Tomizawa's son will soon be reunited with his faithful childhood friends.
Wait a second.
- Here they are!
- Wow! Totally different!
What a revival!
And he's got his eyes back!
Glad you're back.
It's good to have them back.
Even though they're stuffed animals
they're members of the family.
People will want to repair them
instead of just buying a new one.
If they're injured they get treatment.
For us, that's just common sense.