Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Japanese Sosaku Kokeshi Container by USABURO, Okamoto

Okamoto, Usaburo



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 9-0”h

This Kokeshi container is wonderfully handcrafted with the head being a separate element and expressively detailed eyes and suggested hair treatment with the traditional top knot. The body of the doll is carved from a solid piece of paulownia wood with a clear lacquer with plum blossoms in white and red. It has been hollowed out to provide storage for personal items and a wonderfully proportioned Kokeshi. The handicrafts studied the inner workings of the different tree species. The woods used for the Kokeshi are carefully selected and combined. The feel that is created by the fine workmanship is impressive. The base container is signed in white ink by Osaburo.

Kokeshi made by Usaburo are of particularly high-quality fore which the family business was founded by Usaburo, Okamoto, born in Shinto in 1917 and passed on in 2009 at the age of 91. The manufactory is characterized by its special passion and high level of both handcrafted and machine-crafted production. The founder Usaburo, Okamoto has already won many prizes for his work. His employees and some family members are also proud winners of prizes for their work. The love for their homeland is, as he said, the source from which they draw their creativity and continually learn from innovation.

Condition: The head has two surface imperfections, (one pin whole and a spot with missing lacquer and from the effects of aging but does not take away from its display-ability or value.

Artisan | Woodworker: Okamoto, Usaburo | 1917-2009


Okamoto was the patriarch of the most prolific family of Modern Kokeshi doll manufacturing. Okamoto-san began creating Sosaku dolls in 1950. Winner of many awards, including the Prime Mininster’s Award, his early dolls were mostly hand-carved/painted on the wheel, and there are fewer of those extant. In his later years, however, he began mass-producing a souvenir-style doll (Kindai). He established a museum in Gunma, which his sons, daughters, and extended family now maintain.

Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:

Some of Okamoto’s lathe-turned dolls typically incorporate ribbing of the natural wood to give depth and textural quality. Many of the heads of his dolls are traditional in appearance and made of Dogwood, a lighter colored wood, which creates contrast and is quite painterly in execution. He is also known to twist the form of the body for interest. He incorporates a great deal of seasonal motifs such as cherry blossoms, and falling leaves. Many pieces were done in Paulonia wood.

Artist's signature:

Okamoto kokeshi artisan signature