Kokeshi Styles, FIND YOUR FAVORITE!!

Of the eleven traditional styles of Kokeshi doll, five are made in Miyagi Prefecture:  Togatta, Naruko, Yajiro, Sakunami, and Hijiori.  Here we will introduce you to the unique characteristics of each style.


Cool eyes and a cute smile


This style of Kokeshi was born in the Togatta hot springs area.  Togatta Kokeshi have a simple silhouette with a straight body and large head.  The eyes are painted with upper and lower eyelids, and the nose is painted in a wishbone shape.  The body is often painted with chrysanthemum, plum blossom or cherry blossom motifs.  Togatta Kokeshi wear a radial headdress with red petals extending from the forehead to the cheeks.

The artisan:
Yasuhiro Sato
When Yasuhiro Sato’s father, Masahiro Sato, was awarded a Yellow Ribbon Medal in 2010, Yasuhiro decided to quit his job as a salaryman and study under his father.


Old-fashioned Japanese beauty


The Naruko style of Kokeshi developed at Naruko hot springs.  One of the unique characteristics of these Kokeshi is that their heads squeak when turned.  They have kind faces and flared shoulders and skirts. The stripes at the top and bottom of the body are painted on the lathe, and the body is often painted with a chrysanthemum motif.  The bangs are painted like the dolls sent as gifts from the Imperial Palace.  Naruko Kokeshi wear a red headdress.

The artisan:
Yasuo Okazaki
Yasuo Okazaki was born in 1954. After graduating from high school, he studied under his father and began creating Kokeshi with the guidance of his father’s senior pupil.


Colorful and fashionable


 This style of Kokeshi developed in the village of Yajiro in Shiroishi.  The top of the head is painted with colorful rings that look like a beret. The wide lines on the body are painted on the lathe, while the designs on the collar and skirt are painted freehand. The slender waist is also characteristic of this style. Perhaps because Yajiro Kokeshi come from the warmest of the Kokeshi-producing regions, they have a bright and open air.

The artisan:
Mayumi Niiyama
Mayumi Niiyama began studying under her husband after their marriage. In 2012, the couple traveled to Paris, where their demonstration of the making of Kokeshi at the Louvre Museum was extremely well-received.


Gentle and lovely



This style of Kokeshi developed at Sakunami hot springs. One of the unique characteristics of this style is the skinny body that is easy for children to grasp. The design on the body is called kanikiku (crab chrysanthemum), because the flowers resemble crabs.  Originally the face was stern, but over time it has become gentler.

The artisan:
Teruyuki Hiraga
Teruyuki Hiraga started training under his father and grandfather upon graduating from junior high school. In addition to traditional Kokeshi, he also creates original Kokeshi dolls such as Ofuro Kokeshi that look like they are taking a bath, and Tsunenaga Hasekura Kokeshi made to look like the first Japanese ambassador in the Americas and Europe.


You will never forget its unique face!


This style of Kokeshi developed at Hijiori hot springs in YamagataPrefecture, and is a combination of the Togatta and Naruko styles.  With colors reminiscent of an oil painting and strong individuality, Hijiori Kokeshi stand out among the eleven traditional styles of Kokeshi. You will never forget its vivid yellow chrysanthemum-patterned dress and black bob!

The artisan:
Shoichi Sato
Shoichi Sato was born in 1935.  As a third-generation Hijiori craftsman who inherited the craft of his celebrated father and grandfather, he specializes in Kokeshi.  In 2000 he was awarded a Yellow Ribbon Medal.


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