Standing atop the Tsuruga Yama floats are life-sized samurai dolls with fluttering kimono sleeves. These dolls are adorned in authentic armor and have Noh masks for faces.
The bodies of the dolls are made of a frame of wood and metal poles, with pipes and other materials used today. The head and body are rounded using woven baskets, etc., and covering it to shape the dolls are bundles of straw wrapped in ropes, fabric, and Japanese washi paper. For the arms, a core wire is installed to make the sleeves spread out wider.
Next, the dolls are dressed in garments with gold brocades and fine fabrics. The sleeves and hakama skirt are made to appear as if they are billowing to show off the beauty of the cloth materials, and are decorated with embroidery along the sleeve edges for a more extravagant look. Then, the samurai dolls are outfitted with armor and Noh masks. For a finishing touch, the dolls are made to hold decorative tachi long swords and spears, bows, and other weaponry for depicting the battle scenes.
Originally, the dolls for the Yama floats were remade every year, so doll makers were hired to complete them. The best Noh masks and armor have been preserved, with some still having the names of their original owners, who were merchants in Tsuruga, inscribed on them.