I collect Kokeshi Dolls. Kokeshi Dolls are wooden dolls made in the northern region of Japan. It is believed that they originated late in the Edo period (ca. 1800-1830) There are different types of Kokeshi Dolls. One type is called "Traditional". They have long cylinder shaped bodies with round heads. I just starting collecting "Traditional" Kokeshi. The majority of my collection are called "Vintage" Kokeshi. They usually have a round- shaped body with a round head. They were made during the 1950's and 1960's for tourists to bring back as souvenirs, from their visit to Japan. Kokeshi dolls are the most popular of all Japanese Folkcraft. Originally a Folk toy for children, they are now a traditional Art work. Today, there are two types of Kokeshi Dolls that are being produced. They are "Creative" and "Traditional". "Creative" Kokeshi are more modern or contemporary looking and developed later, in Kokeshi history. They give the artist free reign to use whatever style or shape they choose. "Traditional" Kokeshi dolls are still made today by Kokeshi Artists called Kiji-Shi,(which means woodworker in Japanese) who have been making these handcrafted dolls for generations. The art is passed down from master to apprentices. Kokeshi shapes and pattern vary depending on where they were made, but are specific to each strain. These are trademarks. You can tell exactly where the Kokeshi came from, by their special markings. If you click on "Traditional Kokeshi Dolls" under my Favorite Links, you'll see an example of five of the ten strains of "Traditional" Kokeshi.
How It All Started
When I was young, my father used to bring home Japanese trinkets for me, from a Japanese restaurant near his work. One of them was a Kokeshi Doll nesting family. I wish I still had them. Over the years I looked and looked because I wanted to buy more, but couldn't find dolls like those anywhere. Four years ago my children bought me a computer. I looked up Japanese nesting dolls on the internet and found out they were called Kokeshi. The rest is history. I spend 90% of my computer time looking at Kokeshi dolls and anything to do with Japan. Japan is so beautiful and their culture intrigues me. Now, thanks to eBay I have a beautiful collection of Kokeshi and other oriental dolls, including Geisha.