Japanese Culture Teaching Notes


The Kokeshi Doll

Of all the native folk toys of Japan, there is perhaps none as familiar as the ‘Kokeshi’, which is to be found in souvenir shops throughout the nation.
They are said to have originated in the Tohoku region (Northeast Japan) in the hands of the lathe-craftsmen who lived a gypsy life in the mountains of that region.
Eventually, in about the middle of the Edo Period, these craftsmen settled down near the many spas that abounded in that region, and began to make bowls and trays to sell to the visitors at the spas.
After a time, they started to make the ‘Kokeshi’, and this, according to one viewpoint, was the beginning of the ‘Kokeshi Doll’.
However there are other possible origins.
One is that they may be related to the household god that had wide belief in the Tohoku region from long in the past.
Another possibility is that they may be a modified version of phallic symbols derived from an ancient sex worship.

At any rate, the ‘Kokeshi’ of today is not so much a religious toy as a toy loved for its simple artistry, so that perhaps there is not a single school girl in Japan who does not have one adorning her desk.

Posted by ・Andrea :: 1:54 AM :: 1 Comments:

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