Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Rare Traditional Vintage Kokeshi by Sato Tetsuro, Tougatta Family


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12-0”h

This is traditional Anniversary Kokeshi with black semi-e of Kotobuki/Kame wishes on the body, and of the Tougatta family by Sato Tetsuro, (1932-). His masters were Sato, Kichiya, and Sato, Kichinosuke.

This Kokeshi has the characteristic narrow, columnar body with tapered shoulders with a  head that is wider than the rest of the doll. It has variegated grey and black hair with bangs and side fringes. Its eyes are thin and narrow with what is called a “cat” nose and expressive red-accented mouth. The piece displays a stacking of Chrysanthemum flowers that are framed with black Rokoru-Moyo line work and beautifully rendered in gray and black being the main feature of her kimono. The doll is extensively signed by the artist on the bottom of the doll with details of the doll. 

The specific type of Tougatta doll is thought to be the “oldest” family member of the Traditional school. The Tougatta style is specifically sought after by collectors for their interesting range of images which break away from the pure traditional family motif. 

Condition: Excellent vintage condition and as originally made. All of the represented colors show no fading or discoloration with “crisp” drawing/coloration. Beautiful polished patina developed from age. This type of doll draws special attraction to collectors because of this specific black style of the motif. The doll has been published in A Collectors Guide: Traditional and Creative Kokeshi and Toys. 

NOTE: Under our Browse and Learn section, please refer to Browse by Family, Tougatta Family for full details on the history and development of this style doll.

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