Vintage RARE Traditional Yajirou Kokeshi by Niiyama, Manabu


Dimensions: 4-0”h

The creator of this pair of small dolls by Master Kokeshi carver, Niiyama, Manabu, (1930-) hails from the small farming village of Yajirou-machi near Kamasaki Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture, once a farming village between two, tall mountains. The kiji-shi (woodworkers), during this period, used their spare time making Kokeshi souvenirs which their wives use to deliver to the nearby Kamasaki Onsen to sell their work to Japanese travelers staying at Onsens, (hot springs) in the area.

Both of these dolls were made in the late 1950s and have distinct waists and wider bases affording these dolls stability for the undulating upper bodies. Each is decorated in the typical Yajirou Kokeshi colors of green, red, purple, and black, and brightly painted. The bodies have an unusual form with horizontal stripes encircling the bodies in the ‘Rokoru moyo’ style for which one has a bird and grass field painted on the bottom of the simulated garment. Each doll is wearing a very rare, and less common conical hat known as Sugegasa, (dimpled hat), an accessory that was almost forgotten in history. As seen in this Kokeshi the hat represents the older conical hat simulating the weaving of dry grass and was worn as efficient protection against both sun and rain, but here takes on a more “dressed” look with its red strips and ornamented Kimono. Each has bangs, a red decorative bow, and side hair fringes. Also seen is one lid or double eyelids, a small red dot representing “rosy” cheeks, and pick shaped nose. Both dolls are made from maple. Both pieces are signed by the artist in script on the bottom.

For further information see, Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Yajirou-Kei (Family) in our Browse and Learn section.

Condition: Excellent and beautiful and extremely rare examples. Excellent care and handling affording each doll age-old elegance. Retains the original craft/workmanship showing a wonderfully-developed patina commensurate with age and unrestored. Each piece meets all the standards of Traditional Kokeshi collectibles and is an exceptional piece for the collectors of Yajirou Family dolls.