Somehow I've been attracted to Kokeshi lately... Kokeshi is a small wooden doll with a big round head and thin straight body.
Here is a little bit of a history...
It is said that the production of Kokeshi started in the late Edo period (Edo period ended in 1868) in Tohoku region of Japan.
Many craftsman started to live in Hot spring towns where the local rice farmers and fishermen would spend a long period of time, healing their tired bodies from the hard labour(=TOJI) Kokeshi became a popular souvenir for the farmers to bring home from TOJI towns (=TOJI-BA)
It was believed the red dye of Kokeshi would protect people from small pox. Cute dolls in little girls' shape were symbol of "recuperation" and protection. Kokeshi, originally was a toy for small children. So Kokeshi's body was very slim so that small hands of the children could grab it.
In my hometown, Hijiori Onsen,Yamagata pref. there is only one Kokeshi craftsman left. My neighbour Suzuki san makes such beautiful Kokeshi that he has received countless prizes. Hijiori Kokeshi is quite famous among traditional Kokeshi lovers. Many Hijiori Kokeshi contains dry beans inside the head so it's like a maracas! This also proves that Kokeshi was used as kids toy.
After Taisho period(1912-1926), Kokeshi got super popular all over Japan. Simple, wooden Kokeshi was no longer an attractive toy for children. However, a lot of people started collecting Kokeshi for admiration.
The big problem of Kokeshi was that when there is an earthquake, it falls! (This is what happend to all the Kokeshi dolls in my Ryokan at the time of huge earthquake in March and April)
I found an interesting New Kokeshi that took advantage of its "disadvantage". These high tech Kokeshi flashes automatically when it falls :-D Great idea. What is amazing is that these aren't just cheap Kokeshi. Authentic traditional Kokeshi dolls.
Nowadays it is hard for the Kokeshi craftsman to maintain the living just by selling Kokeshi. Kokeshi is not as popular as before ... :-( There are very few young people who want to take over the craftsmaking.
But I see that now Kokeshi is loved by many foreign nationals. I counted about 70 facebook groups of Kokeshi.
There are new Kawaii shapes and designs❤
I really hope Kawaii Kokeshi Lovers would start new Kokeshi Fever in Japan!