Kokeshi doll × World

In the last post, I mentioned that Guam’s Latte Stone looks like a Kokeshi doll.

So this time, I would like to do a deep dive into the “Kokeshi doll”.

Origin of Kokeshi dolls

Kokeshi dolls became popular during the Edo period. It’s when hot spring was getting well-known as healing spot in Tohoku area.
Craftsmans which is called “Kijishi”, used to make bowls and trays with using the trees in the area which many hot spring spots are. But they started to make Kokeshi doll as toys for kids and souvenirs for visitors.

Why Kokeshi dolls are painted with RED?

You’ll see red color designed Kokeshi dolls especially in traditional ones.
It’s because people believe that “red protects from smallpox”. So many artists used red color with toys for children.

You might find it out when you see “old toys in Japan”. Yes, I guarantee you.

Kokeshi dolls are lucky charms

The reason is not clear, but Kokeshi dolls are also known as something lead to “recovery of mind and body, plus abundant harvest”. Probably because it was made by a woodworker who is familiar with the mountains, and the Kokeshi is a souvenir for spa treatment.

So it is useful as an auspicious item.

12 Types for Traditional Kokeshi doll

Among the traditional kokeshi dolls, there are 12 types in total.

[Miyagi Prefecture]
・ Naruko Kokeshi dolls: One of the three major birthplaces. You might see it more often.
・ Kokeshi dolls of the Tokarita system: One of the three major birthplaces. It features a red radial decoration and a cracked nose.
・ Yajiro Kokeshi doll: Multicolored potter’s wheel pattern like a beret, with a constriction on the body.
・ Sakunami Kokeshi doll: The torso is slender and the head is small. It features a pattern called crab chrysanthemum.

[Aomori Prefecture]
・ Tsugaru Kokeshi dolls: Basically, the head and torso are made from a single tree. There is a bulge around the chest, and it is often drawn with a smiling expression.

[Akita Prefecture]
・ Kojiyama Kokeshi dolls: This is also basically “built-in” style like [Tsugaru] ones. It is characterized by being called a scallion head, and its neck is more clearly visible than other kokeshi dolls.

[Iwate Prefecture]
・ Southern Kokeshi dolls: Typical of them are without patterns. The head is loosely fitted, so it moves steadily.

[Yamagata Prefecture]
・ Yamagata Kokeshi dolls: Similar to Sakunami, the head is small and the body is slender. It features flower patterns such as four-petaled plums, cherry blossoms, and safflowers.
・ Zao Takayu Kokeshi dolls: It is said that they were influenced by the Togatta dolls. It features a large head, radial patterns, and colorful patterns.
・ Hijiori Kokeshi doll: The head is a little square. The feature is that the eyes are smiley.

[Fukushima Prefecture]
・ Tsuchiyu Kokeshi dolls: Black snake-eye pattern on the head and red hair ornaments on the sides of the bangs.
・ Nakanosawa Kokeshi dolls: Kokeshi dolls that are independent of [Tsuchiyu] ones. Characterized by a dumpling nose with wide open eyes.

Some are similar, but they’re completely different! Some kokeshi dolls have a distinctive feature.
Even if I express it in letters, I can’t explain enough…
So, here is that you can see the photos on the site below, if you are interested.

Please check it out.

Kokeshi dolls and the world

Currently, in addition to traditional kokeshi dolls, various “creative kokeshi dolls” are being made.
And the spread is not only in Japan but also overseas.

In 2014, a limited-time gallery of “MEXI KOKESHI” was held in Sendai, where Mexican art was fused.
Since Acapulco of Mexico and Sendai of Miyagi are sister cities, this event came true.

Enlarge the image
Works used in posters at the time of “Mexi Kokeshi”

I went there with my friend. It was GREAT.
I was surprised how unique they are, and how beautiful they could be. And I saw the possibilities of kokeshi dolls.

Since then , Kokeshi dolls have appeared at the international trade fair “Maison et Objet”, which is also called Paris Fashion Week in the interior industry, which is held every year in Paris, a contract with Paul Smith , and collaboration with British artists. They are expanding overseas more and more.
This is amazing, Kokeshi-san!!

As I write something like this, I started thinking that how it would be like if they collaborate with Guam.

I hope that Kokeshi dolls, which were born in Tohoku, will continue to be loved all over the world as something to heal people.

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