Born in Yonezawa City, Iwate, Miyashita-san studied traditional kokeshi making under Yamagata-Sakunami Master artist Kobayashi Kichitaro. He began his Sosaku career in 1959, winning many awards, including the Prime Minister’s Award in 1977. Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako purchased his culturally sensitive dolls in 1969. His studio was located in Maebashi City of Gunma Prefecture, but after it was consumed by fire in 2006, Miyashita-san retired.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
Miyashita-san was known for his seasonal themes, such as the period of transition from spring to summer known as ‘tsuyu’, which means ‘rainy season’. Traditional umbrellas (Wagasa), are atypical, and rarely used in Kokeshi creations, except for Miyashita’s designs. He also depicts Kabuki dancers known as Kagamijishi, which is a shortened name of the Kabuki dance called the “shunkyo Kagamijishi”. Depicting the Lion dance characters, (Mai, in this instance), were an additional theme for this artist, for it portrayed the spirit of the lion, which is a contrast between the elegant feminity and the dynamic masculine power of the lion spirit. Miyashita-san depicts brides in traditional wedding attire. One is detailed in a Uchikake, (Brocade), Kimono with traditional motifs, (chrysanthemums and cranes). Her head is adorned with a traditional cover called a Tsuno-kakushi, which refers to the “hiding the horns of jealousy”, and symbolizes a prayer for marital accord. And finally, he breaks from the traditional kokeshi form with a later doll showing oversized arms and feet.
Additionally Miyashita-san created a series of Yukata Kokeshi shown above. The name Yukata comes from the word ‘yu’, (bath), and ‘Katabira’, (under clothing). Yukata are draped loosely over the body for comfort. This all began over 1,000 years ago when people wore it to and from the bath. Yukata is a garment that the Japanese have invested a great deal of ingenuity in developing, as it is an ideal casual wear for bathing. Kokeshi dolls have traditionally been sold at Japanese Inns, (Ryokan). Today, the Yukata is also worn in Bon-odori dance festivals and competitions throughout Japan. Made of dogwood, these dolls display different Yukata graphic patterns. Each shows a unique obi, which is also simulated in wood. The hair designs also illustrate the diversity of individual taste of the period.