Tougatta Balancing Yajiro Top

Japanese Traditional Tougatta Kokeshi Balancing Yajiro Top | Rokugou Hitomi | Vintage Koma


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: Total length of the Balance pole: 13-1/2” l. The Kokeshi doll/stand is 4-0”h. Each top measures 1-1/4”

This is an amazing rare balance toy, (“Yajiro”), handmade Japanese Traditional Tougatta Kokeshi balancing spinning top by Rokugou Hitomi. It is different from the ordinary balance toy in that it balances the spinning tops on each side of the pole, and the small top with the Kokeshi head rotates on top of the Kokeshi doll.

It is designed and made by one of the few female artists and wife of Sato Yosuhiro, also a Kokeshi carver of the period. The set includes one Kokeshi stand, one balancing miniature spinning tops with Kokeshi head on a red and yellow balancing pole, and two, miniature, standard spinning tops. Each decorated in Tougatta color pallet of reds, green and purple with black accents. A very rare piece of craftsmanship and signed on the bottom by the artist.

Vintage Condition: Excellent, mint condition with exceptional balance and good sense of proportion and color. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear or structural damage is note.

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