Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi Dolls

Have you seen colorful wooden dolls being sold outside an onsen (hot springs)?

鳴子系こけし/こけしの岡仁 from dmp on Vimeo.

The kokeshi doll is an artists delight having been handcrafted over a running spindle by artisans skilled in woodwork. The origin of these dolls dates back 400 years in Japanese history. But to date no one knows why exactly they were sold as souvenirs outside onsen. According to one story, the dolls had a spiritual significance, representing the wish for a healthy child; another suggests that the dolls were probably used as massage tools, maybe because they had round heads and limbless bodies. The reasons may be many, but the traditional 'Naruko' style Kokeshi dolls are a popular souvenir sold outside onsen (hot spring) resorts.

Seeing this piece of art being hand-crafted from scratch with a block of wood and minimal tools is a unique experience.