Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Rare Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: Mt. Tanigawa by Sato, Tatsuo

Sato Tatsuo


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 14-3/4”h

This doll is very rear and a limited edition Kokeshi by Sato-san’s and his love of Mt. Tanigawa, a popular tourist attraction near his home. As with all of his pieces they are wonderfully illustrated with his depiction of the canyon, and waterfall with all the inherent natural elements of a snowy mountain top on the body of this creative Kokeshi. His executes extremely detailed dolls which forces the observer to concentrate on the hand-painted waterfall landscape in brown, gray and black. Arranged in a comprehensive composition, the calligraphy on the body of his Kokeshi are typically short poems, (Haiku), which embody the spirit of Mt. Tanigawa, and the wonderful visual experience of seeing Mt. Tanigawa. The poem on the upper, center portion of the body translates as: “The Earth trembles at Ichi-no-Kurasawa at Mt. Tanigawa”. The town leaders, where the artist resides, present his Kokeshi to visiting dignitaries as a souvenir, (omiyage) and in appreciation for community support.

Although his work falls into the Transitional/Sosaku Kokeshi category, for his creations incorporate both traditional and creative elements. His facial characteristics are based on the Yajirou Family style with black and red colored ‘Rokoru Mayo’ circular-style painted line work at the top of the head, neck and bottom of the doll. Each painted with a red and black circular lines with a black spot, (head) in the center, while the face has delicately black bangs and delicately painted black side fringes. An ornamental decorative spray of red leaves and green berries frame the face. Sato-san’s faces are always shown with one eye brow, "descending eyelid", white pick shaped nose and tiny red mouth. The artistically rendered motif of Mt. Tanigawa is a realistic and creative element which is characteristic of all of his dolls. His pieces are highly prized and made on request for they were not created for the general public. The piece is signed on the bottom, and the name of the mountain in red on the side of the doll. 

Condition: Excellent with no imperfections, no color loss or fading. This is a large museum quality piece that is both unique, unusual and a perfect doll for the collector of Sato-san’s work in the Japanese Kokeshi folk art genre.

Additional Information: Sato, Tatsuo (1928-2009) was born in Yajirou, Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture, and studied under Master Sato Imasaburo, producing traditional Yajirou Kokeshi. While he remained a traditional Yajirou Artist, he also created some rare Sosaku Kokeshi, for he was an accomplished oil painter and Rukuru-shi, (lathe craftsman). This specific doll the fall under the transitional category of Sosaku Kokeshi dolls reflecting some characteristics of the traditional family motif, particularly with the doll shape, design, facial and hair treatment. The Sosaku or creative vein is standardly seen in the treatment of the body of the doll. Artists such as he are not standardly included in books on traditional or creative artists for their creations are more revolutionary for the time and the break common standards of this genre.

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Artisan | Woodworker: Sato, Tatsuo | 1928-2009


Born in Yajirou, Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture, Tatsuo studied under Master Sato Imasaburo, producing traditional Yajirou Kokeshi. While he remained a traditional Yajirou Artist, he also created some rare Sosaku Kokeshi, for he was an accomplished oil painter. Tatsuo’s love of Mt. Tanigawa, a popular tourist attraction near his home, is wonderfully illustrated in his depiction of the canyon and waterfall in winter on these creative Kokeshi, with all the inherent natural elements. Arranged in a comprehensive composition, the calligraphy on the body of his Kokeshi are typically short poems, (Haiku), which embody the spirit of Mt. Tanigawa. The poem here translates as: “The Earth trembles at Ichi-no-Kurasawa at Mt. Tanigawa”.

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

The subject of Sato-san’s extremely detailed dolls forces the eyes to concentrate on the hand-painted landscape, and associated poems about this wonderful visual experience. Although his work falls into the creative Kokeshi category, each of his dolls have traditional elements in both the facial characteristics and the colored grooving of the line work framing the image. The town leaders, where the artist resides, uses his pieces as souvenirs, (omiyage), to visiting dignitaries.

Artist's Signature:

Customer Reviews

One of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years

I recently purchased one of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years. The information you provided was excellent, the piece is in mint condition as advertised, with a subject matter I did not have in my collection.

— dbl

Delightful and well written book

Just downloaded my ebook on Sosaku Kokeshi. Excellent and so excited to see that you transposed the hardbound version. Exceptional large color images with great descriptions and details. It is so nice to have a copy I can carry when touring and when I am on-line shopping for Kokeshi. Also nice not to have to pay for international shipping.

— Author's name

A great doll

As always, a carefully packed order arrived this morning. This Sosaku Kokeshi – Takeda, Nori Aki Kaze is a great doll. Her large attractive head and maple leaf pattern, along with the vibrant colour make this doll very intriguing. Another copy of your new book that I have ordered for my friend will be a great Christmas Present for him. Much appreciated. I have also enjoyed furthering my knowledge of Japanese Antiques and Collectibles through your website.

— Kathy

You did the subject justice

Vintage Kokeshi and its history is absolutely a topic thats close to my heart, so Im pleased that you wrote about it. Im also happy that you did the subject justice bringing the history of these creative artifacts to light. Not only do you know a great deal about it, you know the way to present the subject in a way that individuals will wish to read far more. Im so happy to know a person/site like you exists on the internet. I understand you are writing a book on Sosaku Kokeshi artists. That will be high on my list for there is nothing in English on the subject, and I am worried that the craftsmen and their creations will be lost as Japan becomes more western in attitude. Doomo arigato gozaimasu from Japan.

— Misugi

Truly opened my eyes

I recently purchased your book on Kokeshi and what a find after collecting for over 10 years with no information to base my purchases on. Now I have YOUR ILLUSTRATIVE BOOK and it has truly opened my eyes. All the associated stories and folk tales give such light to my collection. A curator at the Japanese American National Museum in LA told me about this great resource. Your book happens to be astonishingly precise although I can understand why someone else has not written a book on the subject, because all the artists producing Kokeshi remain obscure and little information available has not been translated. Your book truly did switch the light on for me personally as related to Japanese folk art.

— John G

Detailed textual information & beautiful photographs

We just received your new book, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition. Let us be the first to congratulate you on this superb follow-up to Kokeshi: Wooden Treasures of Japan. Your comprehensive text with its notes on the artists and the beautiful photography create a work that any collector of Kokeshi should have if they wish to develop an understanding of and knowledge about this Japanese folk art. We don’t know which is better (Does either have to be better?), the detailed textual information or the beautiful photographs. Both insist upon and rightfully demand spending time to enjoy and appreciate them. Thank you so much for adding to our appreciation of Kokeshi.

— Masakazu & Keiko Ota

Another great Kokeshi book edition

Another great Kokeshi book edition. I was thrilled to see many of the Kokeshi in my collection in your book. I even found a few that I still had not been able to identify, it was nice to finally know the artisans behind my wonderful collection.

— M. Molina

My kokeshi collection has become more focused and personal now that I am able to recognize which dolls I am truly drawn to

Whether you are a kokeshi doll collector like I am, or exploring Japanese folk art for the first time, Sosaku Kokeshi – A New Look at an Old Tradition is a wonderful, informative resource for collectors and a lovely visual introduction to Sosaku dolls. I just purchased a copy of the book, and I could not be more pleased! With its beautiful colour photographs, signatures and profiles of the artists along with titles of the dolls, it is a well-researched, comprehensive resource. While some dolls featured in the book were familiar to me, I was also introduced to artists and dolls that I have never seen or heard of before.

These two books have helped me to learn so much more about kokeshi dolls, and influence my thoughts on the process of doll selection. My kokeshi collection has become more focused and personal now that I am able to recognize which dolls I am truly drawn to. These two books have become an extension of and just as much a part of my collection as the dolls that sit on my shelves.

— Karen W.

WONDERFUL exposition.

The artwork on each doll is literally like a unique painting historically recording the Japanese culture. Thank you for your fine work and this educational experience.

— TM

After we purchased the first one, we fell irresistibly in love

We started collecting Kokeshi only a short time ago with the expert guidance of Michael and Robert. Beginning with a goal of three or four dolls for each of our granddaughters, we almost immediately changed our goal after we purchased the first one and fell irresistibly in love with this Japanese folk art.

We have amassed a small collection that we display proudly.

In spite of our limited background and only a little research to support our evaluation, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition is a magnificent work on the subject of these wooden dolls which make up a segment of the folk arts of Japan. The detailed background materials on the artists and the notes on the dolls can be an invaluable part of one’s collection. The marvelous photography is an excellent complement to the text, as we re-viewed the images many times, envying the owner of each doll.

— Koigirl

I love my new jewelry box!!

Just want to say MAHALO — love my new jewelry box!! I wanted this tobacco box to hold my modest collection of jewelry. I tend to march to the beat of a different drummer most of the time, and I often repurpose items. When I saw this lovely Japanese box you were selling, I thought “bingo!” — perfect!! So, many thanks… and I hope to occasionally purchase an item now and then now that I know about you!

— Kristi

Delightful Kokeshi book

I received your delightful Kokeshi book, and I am very grateful to have discovered this beautiful publication. The photographs are singular elegant portraits. It is wonderful you have included the calligraphy kanji signature of the craftsman, as important as the beautiful painted dolls. Your book gives provenance to my small treasured collection and a guide in my search for more. Exciting to also discover a few of mine already in your book. Many thanks again for gifting this special kokeshi edition and I hope to continue to share the joy.

— Tania

Oh my goodness! She has arrived and she is divine!

She was beautifully packed and arrived safe and sound. She is so gorgeous and I thank you so much for all that you have done along the way. You provide such a professional yet also personable business and it was a delight dealing with you.
Thank you for bringing such gorgeous items to our attention – these Kokeshis are ‘works of art’ and we are lucky to be able to purchase them and bring them into our lives and homes.
I had to send you a photo of her with her new family and I have to say, as you predicted, she fits in beautifully.
I shall keep an eye on your website for further ‘treasures’.

— Karen, the lucky owner of ‘Pigtails’ by Ishihara, Hideo

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Thank you for your attention and guidance to a new mingei collector. Both your publication and mingei are outstanding, your packing is perfect and shipping prompt.

— Brenda

Really beautiful.

Got the vase over the weekend. Somehow this medium really speaks to me, at least the objects where most everything is in different shades of brown. Very appealing. Yes, too bad I missed out on the ginger jars you had for sale. Ah well, it’s all OK in the universe. And what clever use of materials for safe packing!

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I have several items from Robert & Michael’s collection now and they all hold a special place in my home and warm my heart when I see them. Something about the art from Japan just makes me feel at peace and also comforted.

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I could not be happier with my three new Kokeshi

Your time and personal attention was gratefully appreciated. I could not be happier with my three new Kokeshi – I have them displayed where I pass by often so I can stop and look at them – they always bring a smile to my face! They make me HAPPY! I also love your book and eBook. Thank you so much!

— Barb

Opened my eyes to the diversity and beauty of an amazing art form

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Great spinning top

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