Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Vintage Traditional Rainbow Tougatta-Kei Kokeshi by Hiroi, Masaaki

Hiroi, Masaaki


b.Late, 1960s

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12-0”h

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. The Tougatta style is easily found by collectors in an interesting range of variations.

Shown is an extremely rare Kokeshi by an artist that made a limited number of dolls, for he specialized and had a passion for toys and spinning tops, (Koma) where his reputation has lasted through today. Hiroi did not live in the Miyagi Prefecture where the Tougatta Kokeshi originated, but this lathe-turned doll was inspired by the Tougatta Family having a narrow, columnar body that tapers at the shoulders to a head that is wider than the rest of the body. It has bangs split in two with side fringes with a shaggy overall hairline and thin narrow eyes and a split nose. The body is banded in rainbow colors, (which are very rare), and throughout the body, along with shallow carved line work giving texture to the doll. This treatment is a circular-style treatment that is a very meticulous method known as ‘Rokoru Moyo’. The doll is signed in the script by the artist on the bottom of the figure.

Condition: Excellent, original condition, with no fading or loss of color and consistent with age and standards of collectible Folk Art. All details are perfect and as crafted.

NOTE: Hiroi-san, (1935-2019) and lived in Oshima, Kōtō Ward (Tokyo) with his mother, father, and three siblings and was driven out of his home by the fires from air raids, first to Kuramae, then Roppongi and Shirokane, for which they barely escaped with their lives. It was also because of the war that he began to make Kokeshi, which were originally considered toys, toy action figures, and tops after his father gave me a foot-powered lathe so he could make tops and other things to play with and to entertain children.

“Cutting-edge technology is fun, but it’s a pity if children become absorbed only in those toys. There are traditional toys and traditional ways to play in Japan. One of them is the spinning top, (Koma). I am sad to see so many old toys become obsolete around the world. I want to make people who buy my toys, laugh, and make toys that anyone, old and young, men and women can enjoy”. MH


Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Tougatta-Kei (Family)

Prefecture: Miyagi

Origin:

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