The Japanese doll referred to as "Gosho" references the Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the Edo (1603-1867) period. This Imperial- patronized doll is a uniquely Japanese form: a caricature of a cute, chubby baby that warms the heart and is both adorable and yet otherworldly at the same time.

Gosho-ningyo can be defined as plump baby figures with large heads, inflated round bodies and brilliant white skin. They were originally created by doll makers in the Kyoto area for the Imperial Household to be given as gifts to visiting emissaries, thus coining the name gosho meaning "from the Imperial Palace".

Gosho dolls evolved from the "naked saga" dolls or hadaka saga which portrayed children's naked forms. Saga dolls are elaborately beautiful carvings of wood, believed to have been created as a sideline by Buddhist sculptors. These figures evolved into the simplified smooth white baby sculptures carved of wood and covered in gofun, a crushed oyster shell paste, layered and burnished.

The court aristocracy and the imitative wealthy merchant class actively collected Gosho Ningyo. Thus, there remain extraordinary examples to be collected and appreciated of this art form for current enthusiasts. A great variety of Gosho imagery in numerous positions exists, usually accompanied by different symbols wishing the recipient good fortune.

Gosho Ningyo