Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

"God of the Sea & God of Good Fortune" Tougatta-Kei (Family) | Shohichi, Sugawara


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Sold as a pair
Dimensions: 6-0” h

Shohicki was known for his interpretations of the Seven Lucky Gods, (Benzaiten; Bishamonten; Dikokuten; Ebisu; Fukurokuju, Hotei, and Jurojin). The Seven Lucky Gods are known in Japan as Shichi Fukujin. Adapted from various Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto gods and saints, they were grouped together in Japanese folklore around the 17th Century. This pair of dolls is very rare, and represents two of those Seven Lucky Gods of Good Fortune, (Ebisu and Diakoku).

Both figures are made from one solid lathe-turned piece of wood showing the wood's natural qualities. In this case, knots, (imperfections in the trunk of the tree, which are considered beautiful by the Japanese). Both are exceptionally rendered, and display the symbolic meaning and physical attributes, (a bag filled with the collection from a good harvest, and a Sea Bream, bringing good luck to fishermen), in a very historically-expressive way. Their smiling faces have large moustaches, ornamented robes, with overall features, all wonderfully detailed in black, red and white. Each has a traditional cap typically worn by the respective God. Both are signed on the bottom.

Vintage Condition: Each are in wonderful condition for their age, are “as is” with some scattered light wear or stain that does not affect the design, and which retains the original craft/workmanship and is commensurate with age. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is noted. 

Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Tougatta-Kei (Family)

Prefecture: Miyagi


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. In the 1960s, Togatta craftsman founded the Tougatta Kiji Union, a cooperative that was able to gain the rights for reserved wood use from the Japanese Ministry of Forestry. The Tougatta style are easily found by collectors in an interesting range of variations.

Collector's note – characteristics/painting style:

They are easily recognized by their narrow, columnar body shapes, tapering at the shoulders to a head that is wider than the rest of the doll, and more angular than round. Most Tougatta dolls have bangs split in two with side fringes, thin narrow eyes, and a split nose or cat-type nose. Several have paintings of chrysanthemums, (Kiku), plums (Ume), and iris (Ayame), usually in very stylized designs. The dolls decorated with plum branches and blossoms are associated with Aone Onsen. There is also a group which have ‘banded’ bodies. These are decorated in a circular-style painting known as Rokoru Moyo, which is done as the doll is turned on the lathe. Here again, the head is a squeeze-in type, but cannot be turned to produce a ‘squeak’. The head is covered with a painting of a chrysanthemum.

NOTE: Both Yajirou ad Togutta dolls are sometimes created with loose rings circling the waists. Literally carved from the same wood as the body, a very meticulous method! This treatment is referred to as 'Yamiyo' style kokeshi. It is also seen on Tsuchiyu dolls, though very rarely.

Notable artists:

Oohara Masayoshi
Asakura Kinu, b. 1918
Asakura Eiji, Master
Midorikawa Masando, b. 1926
Sato Tetsuro, Grand Master