Kokeshi Dolls

rokuro kokeshi

Kokeshi is a toy that be made of wood turned.
Generally it is simple styles that are a spherical head and a cylindrical body.
It has started to be made as a souvenir of hotspring tour at Tohoku region since Edo period.

Kokeshi is spread into a traditional Kokeshi and a new style's one.
A traditional Kokeshi is about 10 kinds follow producing area, form and oral tradition.
A new style is spread into a creative one that is handicraft and a Kokeshi doll selling as a souvenir in tourist resort in the whole country.


Traditional Kokeshi dolls

History of Kokeshi

Traditional Kokeshi kokeshi

Originally it is easy for child to grip a connection part of the neck and torso. Also the torso's diameter is thin to be easy to grip for child.

Kokeshi as a toy has declined and has become popular new toys like a kewpie doll in Taisho period.
Then the handicraft people of Kokeshi had changed another job or leave off.

Traditional Kokeshi

However people who likes Kokeshi has collected these since Taisho period.
Then, the artisans have kept making it not for child but for adult.
And then they made some groups that collect Kokeshi in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.
The artisans who had left off the job started making these again.
That's why there are fortunately a lot of Kokeshi made by many author these days.

Kokeshi in the modern

Modern Kokeshi

They who collect Kokeshi are enjoyed watching these lining up.
But they are worry that Kokeshi would fall and make scar by the unbalance of torso and head when an earthquake occurred.
They makes some kinds of Kokeshi that torso is bigger and the height of torso is lower.
A traditional Kokeshi has some changes requested in such a period.
A kind of Kokeshi, sakunami, has thin torso and is very small.
That point has kokeshi's tradition.

kokeshi kokeshi LED

On the other hand, it has been used as disaster measures.
LED is embedded in the bottom of a torso and it automatically lights on when it react slope.

This conflation tradition and new conception told Kokeshi's attraction and support the earthquake disaster reconstruction at Tohoku area.

Kokeshi is used as some signal marks and is a symbol of all Tohoku area.

About the name of "Kokeshi"

Name Ancestry
Kideko Deku
(Wooden figure)
Kiboko Houko
(Crawler doll)
Kogesu Keshi
(Poppy doll)
Keshi ningyou

Name of Kokeshi

he name of the Kokeshi are slightly different by each areas.(right table)
Most of people usually call them "Ningyou(dolls)".

Kokeshi had had a lot of representations in Chinese characters in prewar days. However, people had resolved on making Kokeshi a representation in hiragana at a national Kokeshi meeting at Naruko hot spring, Miyagi on August 1939. Therefore the name of Kokeshi is written in hiragana now.

Origin of Kokeshi

According to a book of late Edo Period, it had written "Kiji-ninngyou koukeshi;
unpainted wood doll" and had been called it instead of Kokeshi.

kokeshi - mizuhiki

The origin of word Kokeshi has a lot, but the best origin are two;
came from a name of Keshi-doll, or made Aka-keshi wooden that is a clay doll of Tsutsumi, Sendai.
People had thought same to Aka-keshi that Kokeshi is a lucky charm to adopt a child and be blessed with children.

kokeshi - mizuhiki

The traditional Kokeshi has a red design being drow on their head.
It's called Mizuhikite.
Mizuhikite is a design that tie her hair in the bangs with a beautiful red rope "Mizuhiki".
It is that an art design had originated for celebration as Gosho dolls in Kyoto.
In Japan, Mizuhiki have used in Happy events. It became the basis of Mizuhikite.
One of Kokeshi's origin, Aka-keshi, have been drawn this design.
Kokeshi is a doll that cerebrate and pray for health and growth of child.