Vintage Traditional Rainbow Tougatta-Kei Kokeshi by Hiroi, Masaaki


Dimensions: 12-0”h

Tougatta dolls are thought to be the oldest family members of the Traditional school. They originated in the Tougatta Onsen in the Miyagi Prefecture and were subsequently being produced also at Aone Onsen, and the cities of Sendai, and Izumi. The Tougatta style is easily found by collectors in an interesting range of variations.

Shown is an extremely rare Kokeshi by an artist that made a limited number of dolls, for he specialized and had a passion for toys and spinning tops, (Koma) where his reputation has lasted through today. Hiroi did not live in the Miyagi Prefecture where the Tougatta Kokeshi originated, but this lathe-turned doll was inspired by the Tougatta Family having a narrow, columnar body that tapers at the shoulders to a head that is wider than the rest of the body. It has bangs split in two with side fringes with a shaggy overall hairline and thin narrow eyes and a split nose. The body is banded in rainbow colors, (which are very rare), and throughout the body, along with shallow carved line work giving texture to the doll. This treatment is a circular-style treatment that is a very meticulous method known as ‘Rokoru Moyo’. The doll is signed in the script by the artist on the bottom of the figure.

Condition: Excellent, original condition, with no fading or loss of color and consistent with age and standards of collectible Folk Art. All details are perfect and as crafted.

NOTE: Hiroi-san, (1935-2019) and lived in Oshima, Kōtō Ward (Tokyo) with his mother, father, and three siblings and was driven out of his home by the fires from air raids, first to Kuramae, then Roppongi and Shirokane, for which they barely escaped with their lives. It was also because of the war that he began to make Kokeshi, which were originally considered toys, toy action figures, and tops after his father gave me a foot-powered lathe so he could make tops and other things to play with and to entertain children.

“Cutting-edge technology is fun, but it’s a pity if children become absorbed only in those toys. There are traditional toys and traditional ways to play in Japan. One of them is the spinning top, (Koma). I am sad to see so many old toys become obsolete around the world. I want to make people who buy my toys, laugh, and make toys that anyone, old and young, men and women can enjoy”. MH