In 2007, Ryan Gosling played a character who has trouble making friends or even socializing with people in a movie called “Lars and the Real Girl.” In the movie, to salve his social anxieties, he turns to the company of a silicone doll he names Bianca. His friends, family and community decide to support him. Eventually, Lars learns to get past his insecurities and begins a relationship with a real woman. Although this was fiction, it is not as far-fetched as it might seem. In fact, at least one man in Japan is playing out a somewhat similar story.
At first, 61-year-old Senji Nakajima’s interest in his love doll, named “Saori,” was purely to fill feelings of loneliness. But after a few months of living with her in his Tokyo apartment, Nakajima, (who is married and has two children but lives away from home because of work) started to think that the doll had developed her own personality. She became more than an inanimate object to him; he began to think of her as his girlfriend. Of Saori, Nakajima said, “She never betrays… I’m tired of modern rational humans. They are heartless…for me, she is more than a doll…She needs much help, but still is my perfect partner who shares precious moments with me and enriches my life.” Getty Images photographer Taro Karibe, much of whose work is propelled by a desire to examine humanity’s sometimes fragile identity, decided to tag along with Nakajima and Saori to see what life living with a silicone doll looks like. These photos show what he found out.