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Learn more about Japanese traditional Kokeshi Dolls in Odaiba

When in Odaiba, be sure to take a look at these authentic kokeshi dolls in Haikara Yokocho. They are not for sale, and look very old. Some of them were hand-painted many years ago.KokeshiKokeshi (こけし) dolls were born in Northern part of Japan. They are made of wood, mostly cherry, dogwood, and Japanese maple. First kokeshi dolls were made in the late Edo period (1804 – 1830). During that time people started living at hot springs in Tohoku to improve the health instead of short visits. Most of them used wooden bowls, plates, trays etc., and the local craftsman started producing those things, there was much leftover wood. A great way to use it was to make simple but cute wooden dolls. At first, kokeshi were created as toys for children. However, pretty soon people started buying them as souvenirs and used them for shoulder massages.KokeshiKokeshi

All kokeshi dolls have a head and trunk, but there are about eleven different types (kei, けい) or families of kokeshi: Tsuchiyu, Yajiro, Togatta, Zao, Sakunami, Yamagata, Naruko, Hijiori, Kijiyama, Nanbu, and Tsugaru. Some kokeshi can’t be categorized into any of them. The styles of each family have been passed from generation to generation for more than 200 years.KokeshiKokeshi dolls in this picture are from Zao family. They were developed in Zao Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. The doll’s bodies are painted with flowers, although the paint on the right one has almost faded out.Kokeshi

The oldest kokeshi-making area is considered to be Sakunami in Sendai City. The heads of kokeshi dolls from Sakunami narrow towards the bottom.


Haikara Yokocho

Address: Tokyo, Minato, Daiba 1-6-1 DECKS Tokyo Beach 4F
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 10 PM
Regular Holidays: none
Telephone: 03-6459-9088
Access 1:3 min. walk from Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station
Access 2: 6 min. walk from Daiba Station
Official website: Haikara Yokocho
Distance from airport: About 15 km from Haneda Airport

Article by Olga Kaneda

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