Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Vintage Traditional Kijiyama Kokeshi by Kyutaro, Ogura


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 10-0” h

This doll is quite unique in its overall design and motif. It has a shorter but elongated neck and head and made of a single piece of wood. The expressive face and simple hair style give the Kijiyama kokeshi a more realistic appearance which is typical of this style. Her striped kimono with a stylized Chrysanthemum design and apron was created about 80 years old. The doll is painted in black outline with red accents, celebrating the natural characteristics of the wood from which it was formed. It is finished in a clear lacquer. She has the artist’s signature and description on its back. This design became the representative doll of this strain.

Vintage Condition: Excellent, (“as is”), with no defects that affect the design, and retains the original craft/workmanship, commensurate with age. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is noted. 

Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Kijiyama-Kei (Family)

Prefecture: Akita


One of the most readily recognizable of the traditional dolls is the Kijiyama type, from the region of the same name in the Akita Prefecture. The name is derived from the wood craftsmen (Kiji-ya), who live in the remote mountains of the Tohoku region. The actual location of Kijiyama is so remote that it was inaccessible in the harsh winter mounts. Many of the kokeshi makers left and settled in the less remote areas of Kawazura, now part of Inagawa-machi. some suggest that the dignified, lonely look of the faces of Kiiyama kokeshi reflects the lonesome past of their birthplace.

Collector's note – characteristics / painting style:

In spite of the slightly sad look, some of these kokeshi have, they are very appealing and sought after for their well-defined style. they wear kimono in several distinctive patterns and are one of the less common strains found. Most Kijiyama have a one-piece body with high shoulders, and while originally chrysanthemums were common on the earlier versions, which were of two-piece construction, the body now possesses a kimono-like painted design, with an apron (maedare), over the kimono. Kijiyama heads looks like an inverted egg, some with a red bow on top. Incorporating Plum Blossoms are closely associated with the Ogura family.

Notable Artists:

Ogura Shougo, b. 1934
Ogura Kiyushiro, Master
Ogura Masaharu, Master.
Ogura, Kyutaro, b. 1906, Grand Master
Note: Others involved in the making of the Kijiyama doll are the Takahashi and Abe families.