Antique Sosaku Kokeshi of Saito Okichi by Hosaka, Yukio
Japanese Kokeshi are known to celebrate and immortalize Japanese traditions, values, and nature that remain important factors in everyday life and tradition. This doll is a perfect example of documenting history and important individuals throughout the country.
This very Large and RARE doll with accompanying book represents a traditionally-costumed Japanese woman with her head slightly tilted, as if she is performing in a traditional dance. She exhibits elegantly coiffed hair with the traditional hair accessories (Kanzashi Hairpin with red lacquered Tama Beads), and painted blue, orange, white and black Kimono and Obi illustrating waves, fans, bamboo and flowers. She is very contemporary and modern-styled as seen in the beautiful painting and details of her clothing. Because of the size and rarity of the piece it has the signature and is numbered by the artist Hosako, Yukio, the only artist that has depicted this historical figure. Because this doll is rarely seen outside of Japan, the piece took years to locate, which was published in two books on the subject of Japanese Sosaku Kokeshi, and another book written on her life.
Condition: Excellent remarkable, original condition with no cracking, fading, missing parts, discoloration or repairs, with gentle wear from handling. Beautifully preserved, “as is”, and commensurate with age. The accompanying book is in excellent condition without a broken spine (unread).
NOTE: The Legend
One of the most popular historical Kokeshi figures is that of a woman named Saito Okichi. Even though the real truth of her existence is still in question, the true bittersweet love story between Okichi and her intended husband, Tsurumatsu is one legend readers never forget.
According to legend, she was born in 1841, in a small fishing village of Shimoda, on the Izu peninsula. Shimoda was the location of Commodore Matthew Perry’s first landing, in 1853. Perry had sailed there with the intention of opening a trade agreement between Japan and the west, and the Treaty of Kanagawa resulted from this first visit, ending Japan’s centuries old self-imposed isolation. He returned again in 1856 as the first Consul General to Japan, and remained there for the better part of six years.
As the story goes, one of Perry’s aids, a Townsend Harris, became infatuated with Ms. Saito who was engaged to a carpenter by the name of Tsurumatsu. When the government officials got wind of this, they forced the young woman, was 15 at the time, to become Harris’ mistress, in the hopes that this would greatly improve trade negotiations with the United States.
Japanese officials wanted Ichibei out of the picture and offered him the rank of Samurai as a bribe if he acquiesced to the barbarian Harris’s desire for his sweetheart. Okichi-san, after pressure from the government, reluctantly agreed to become the concubine to the middle-aged consul, Mr. Harris.
Five years later, however, Harris returned to the United States, leaving a bereft and embarrassed Okichi-san behind who had a reunion with Tsurumatsu, and soon became a target of enmity by the villagers of Shimoda, and who began to call her a “tojin”, (a foreigner’s concubine). Having been thusly stigmatized for having a relationship with the foreigner, Okichi-san was driven to drink and despair, and eventually committed suicide by drowning at age of 51. She eventually was immortalized in a small museum inn Shimoda. And finally, a wonderful paperback book was written on her life entitled: Butterfly in the Wind by Rea Kimura.
Seen are very fine and rare examples of one of the most popular, historical Kokeshi figures: that of a woman referred to as, “Tojin”, (foreigner’s concubine), and represents Okichi, Saito, who became a concubine of a member of the first American Consul in Japan.
According to legend, she was born in 1841, in the small fishing village of Shimoda, on the Izu Peninsula. Shimoda was the location of Commodore Matthew Perry’s first landing in 1853. Perry had sailed there with the intention of opening a trade agreement between Japan and the West, and the Treaty of Kanagawa resulted from this first visit, ending Japan’s centuries of self-imposed isolation. As the story goes, one of Perry’s aids, a Townsend Harris, became infatuated with Ms. Saito. When government officials got wind of this, they forced the young woman, who was 17 at the time, to become Harris’ mistress, in the hopes that this would greatly improve trade negotiations with the United States. Five years later Harris returned home because of ill health. Okichi was free now, but a wounded person, scorned by the townsfolk, forever. A book entitled: Butterfly in the Wind was written by Rei Kimura to document her life experience.
As collectors we felt it was most important to represent all Sosaku Kokeshi artists, whether or not the artist has a written account of his or her life. Each show the diversity of this cultural specialization and the creative work produced by this artist.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles
These creative Kokeshi are always pictured as tall slender figures with tilted head and Kansashi interwoven into her hair. All have beautifully colored Kimono exhibiting traditional motifs of flowers, bamboo leaves, pine trees, a fan, and the sea. She seems wrapped tightly in the upper portion of the kimono with a very tight lower half of the garment.