Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Vintage Tougatta Traditional Kokeshi by Yonamoto, Minoru


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 7-1/4” h

Descriptive Qualities: Each family craftsman attempted to show creativity, while following strict family doll standards. This kokeshi shows a descendants attempt to personalize his work by adding loose rings carved from one piece of lathe- turned wood. The doll incorporates red, green and purple radial designs as well as a Chrysanthemum on the base. The head of the doll called, (tegara ), is composed of a circle of flowers and bangs. The head is quite large with a slender body, making it easier for children to grasp when they were first used as toys. She has long, narrow, crescent-shaped eyes with both the upper and lower eyelids. Her nose is shaped like two pine needles, (Ware-Bana / split nose), and a red dot suggesting her mouth. The doll is signed on the bottom by the artist.

Vintage Condition: Excellent, (“as is”) and retains the original craft/workmanship, and commensurate with age. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is noted. 

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