The Charm and History of Japan’s Traditional Craft: Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi dolls are traditional Japanese wooden dolls characterized by their simple design and unique charm. In this article, we will delve into the features, uses, and history of Kokeshi dolls, as well as famous regional Kokeshi.

【Features of Kokeshi Dolls】

  1. Simple Design: The facial expressions typically feature only eyes and a nose, with an overall simple design that avoids flamboyance.
  2. Material: Locally sourced wood is used, and coloring is kept minimal.
  3. Types: There are different types of Kokeshi dolls with unique regional characteristics, such as “Shonai Kokeshi,” “Tsuchiyu Kokeshi,” and “Naruko Kokeshi.”

【Uses of Kokeshi Dolls】

Originally used as toys for children, Kokeshi dolls are now valued as tourist souvenirs and interior decorations. They are also popular as collectibles and gifts.

【History of Kokeshi Dolls】

Kokeshi dolls have been produced since the Edo period, and there are various theories about their origins. One theory is that they were created by farmers during the winter season for their families, while another suggests that they were sold as toys for visitors at hot spring resorts. Since the Meiji period, Kokeshi dolls have been sold as tourist souvenirs throughout Japan, and a “Kokeshi boom” occurred during the Showa period. Since then, handmade traditional techniques have been reevaluated, and today, Kokeshi dolls are highly regarded traditional crafts both in Japan and internationally.

【Famous Regional Kokeshi】

  1. Naruko Kokeshi: Produced in the Naruko hot spring area of Miyagi Prefecture, these dolls are characterized by carved bodies known as “suji-bori.”
  2. Tsuchiyu Kokeshi: Made in the Tsuchiyu hot spring area of Fukushima Prefecture, these dolls feature slender bodies and faintly reddish faces.
  3. Shonai Kokeshi: Created in the Shonai region of Yamagata Prefecture, these dolls have a distinct shape with a wide body and small head. The faces often have blush, and more colors are used.

【How to Purchase Kokeshi】

To purchase famous regional Kokeshi dolls, you can refer to the following websites.

Naruko Kokeshi:

Tsuchiyu Kokeshi

Shonai Kokeshi

created by Rinker
こけし Qualityshop
¥4,980 (2024/07/22 03:09:06時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

You can search for and purchase Kokeshi dolls from the desired region on these sites. Kokeshi dolls can also be purchased at hot spring resorts and traditional craft stores.


Kokeshi dolls, a traditional Japanese craft, are known for their simple design and unique charm. Understanding their history and regional characteristics deepens their appeal. As tourist souvenirs, interior decorations, or gifts, Kokeshi dolls are a wonderful item that allows you to experience traditional Japanese culture.