Vintage Traditional Kokeshi Dolls

Many collectors looking to buy kokeshi dolls are drawn to the beauty and simplicity of the Japanese wooden dolls. Created as toys and totems for children, kokeshi dolls represent different aspects of Japanese society, folklore, and dress.

 Our kokeshi dolls for sale feature a variety of art styles, time periods and craftsmanship. Japanese wooden dolls have become an iconic representation of Japanese folk art. 

There are two distinctive styles types you should know when buying kokeshi dolls. Labeled ‘traditional’ Japanese wooden dolls, these antique kokeshi dolls were crafted 1600 to 1800s by eleven families in the northern Tohuku region of Japan. Each family developed a specific style of doll, with different patterns, face details, and silhouettes. 

Visitors to the northern onsen (hot spring) towns would find kokeshi dolls for sale, which helped spread the popularity of the dolls. The simple form of the Japanese wooden dolls typically feature a spherical head, long torso, with no arms or legs. The painted details on the Japanese wooden dolls feature a limited set of colors, such as red, black, green and yellow. They often feature floral or linear patterns unique to the family-style of the artist. In the Tohuku region, kokeshi dolls are still crated today in the traditional style.

In the 20th century, there was a revival in Japanese wooden dolls which are labeled ‘sosaku’ (creative) kokeshi dolls. These vintage Japanese wooden dolls were made in the 1940s through the 1970s by craftspeople and artists across the country, showcasing new creativity with forms, techniques, and designs. It was during this second wave of popularity that Japanese wooden dolls were appreciated as collectible art objects with growing international popularity.

 When buying kokeshi dolls from our site, we do our best to explain the specific family-style, craftsmanship, and qualities of the vintage and antique wooden dolls. Each individual kokeshi doll for sale will feature the doll’s origin, current condition, its family style, notable artists of that style, along with collector’s notes on the Japanese wooden doll’s painted details.