Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Usugori | Chilly Morn” by Katase, Kaihei (1921-2015)


Dimensions: 11-3/4” h

This “one-off” creation is truly an exceptional three-dimensional form, all lathe-turned, with three distinctive, hand-crafted details and finish which is a feat unto itself. The doll is turned from one piece of cherry wood. Katase-san was recognized for his exceptional crafting kills, and named “Holder of Excellent Technique” by the Prime Minister in 1970.

The doll has three distinctive surfaces identifying the various parts of the doll. Firstly, her long unbound flowing Heian hairstyle, (Taregami), falls down the entire figure, framing her serene face. This hairstyle was said to intensify spiritual energy and beauty as well as being a mark of elevated rank. The hair is vertically grooved into the natural multi-colored wood for a realistic effect. Her face is beautifully framed by both her hair and garment and shows minimal details, with eyes carved into the wood exhibiting a meditative and serene expression, with a small black nose. And, last but not least is the exceptional detailing of the simulated embroidered Kimono, referred to as a Kamaito, with an autumn leaf motif of one-color Muji Dark Claret (Kuraretto), that is extensively carved throughout the surface. This along with her hair adds great texture to the doll. 

Having been made for a special customer, the piece has a carved, script signature in red Kanji on the bottom, in respect for the intended buyer with the artist’s signature. Art objects at this time were not necessarily signed, because they were made for domestic customers, and the artist was known throughout Japan. Signatures became popular and required when international business was established). 

The piece was also included in the 2022 publication of Sosaku Kokeshi: Celebrating the Major Artists of the Creative Movement. For more information on this artist go to the following link:

Condition: Superb, outstandingly excellent, impressive, and beautiful. We have not seen another published in either Japan or other countries. Photos cannot capture the exceptional work performed. No chips, cracks, breaks, missing pieces, or restoration, and retains its original details and finish. The piece meets all the standards of the vintage collectible Sosaku Kokeshi by Katase, Kaihei.