Vintage Japanese ‘Takobozu’ Nakanosawa Kokeshi by Saito, Tokuju

Sale price$145.00

Dimensions: 12-0”h  

This is traditional Nakanosawa Kokeshi of the Tsuchiyu-kei family by Saito Takuju, (1926-). His masters were Iawamoto Yoshizou and Aba Ichio. This style of Kokeshi was originally created by Iwamoto Zenkichi of the Nakanosawa Onsen. After his death, his son Yoshizou, along with other prominent craftsmen like Fukuchi, kept the Nakanosawa doll’s tradition alive.  

The specific type of Kokeshi is referred to as "Tako bozu" (たこ坊主, bald boys), an octopus face with a facial expression showing humor that is representative of Iwamoto Kenichi, a street dancer, (Sutorītodansā) in the 1920s who used a cushion that had a face with large eyes painted on it. His audience was soon so taken with his dance with the pillow that they asked for a doll to be made with these special features. 

This Kokeshi has a characteristically sizeable over-sized head with a small tuft of a wavy hair strand on the back which was typical of practitioners of the Zen Buddhist faith, and unique large expressive Bikkuri-me eyes, (surprised eyes) and faint reddish-to-pink blush around its eyes and an open mouth with a red tongue and the expressive Shishi-bata Lion’s nose with flared nostrils. The doll incorporates Janome black and green rings painted on the top of its head with abstract peony petals on the side with bangs. Rokoru moyo red and green bands are incorporated below the neck and lower body on the tall thin and tapering body. The painted body details large open red and black peony flowers inspired by the tattoos that the Geisha sported and exhibits all the characteristics that were painted originally on the dancer's pillow. The doll is signed by the artist on the bottom of the doll along with its title. 

Condition: Excellent vintage condition and as originally made. The represented colors show no fading or discoloration with “refined and crisp” drawing/coloration on a fine wood base. Beautiful polished patina developed from age. These beguiling dolls have a special attraction to collectors because of their history and uniqueness.

See additional writings on our website related to this subject: Under our Browse and Learn section, please refer to for full details on the history and development of this style doll.