Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Vintage Japanese Kokeshi Entitled: "Koraku | Happiness" by Kiyohara, Takao

Kiyohara, Takao


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12-0"h

This Kokeshi reflects many characteristics of the traditional school, as is shown in the use of a one-color palette, (soft gray), and consistency of horizontal line work, (Rokuro Moyo). The face resembles traditional Tougatta detailing.

Kiyohara-san is an artist who defies classification, for while he is a well-established and popular Kokeshi doll maker, we would have to consider him a transitional artist, if you will, for very little is known about his background, and less about whom he might have studied under, or for that matter, where he lived. 

Most sources agree that since he is not included in any books on the traditional artists, nor is there mention of him with other well-known creative artists, he has been accorded his own place: that of the "mystery man". All agree, though, that his doll is very rare and collectible and beautifully painted on high-quality wood, and is finished with a great deal of care. He has been awarded the MIND Award, (Ministry of Industry).The piece is signed on the bottom by the artist. 

Vintage Condition: “As is” with some scattered light wear or stain that does not affect the design, and retains the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage noted. 

NOTE:  A further comment about Takao Kiyohara as a transitional Kokeshi artist. Dolls the fall under this category reflect some characteristics of the traditional family motif, particularly with the doll shape, design, facial, and hair treatment. The creative vein and variation are standardly seen in the treatment of the body of the doll. These artists are standardly not included in books on traditional or creative artists for their creations are more revolutionary and unique in the overall design.

Artisan | Woodworker: Kiyohara, Takao | 1916-


Kiyohara-san is one of the most popular and prolific of the creative Kokshi artists and began creating dolls after serving as a pilot in the Japanese/American war. He was considered a transitional artist, due to the fact that many of his dolls resemble traditional Tougatta or Yamagata dolls. His dolls are artistically and minimally decorated. He was awarded the Minister’s Prize four times along with the Enterprise Agency top prize on two occasions.

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

Kiyohara-san’s pieces are minimally ornamented with white and pink cherry blossoms, plum blossoms or simple stripes done in the traditional Rokuro Moyo technique. The unique key characteristic of Kiyohara pieces is ‘the arched eyes and eyebrow. He employs simple turning techniques in either a straight fashion or a bulbous shape which aid in defining the body of each doll, and are directly inspired by Traditional kokeshi forms.

Artist's signature:

Kiyohara, Takao Kokeshi artisan signature