Kokeshi was created during the Edo period, and it used be toys for girls (like Barbie for other countries), after that it started to be sold as souvenir. Usually is made of wood with very simple facial expressions and most of the time red painted.
Every year there is a contest, and the one winner gets the prize from the Prime Minister
There are two types of Kokeshi: the traditional one and the modern one.
There are 11 types of traditional Kokeshi:
- Tsugaru – Made with one pice of wood, both body and head. The body pattern is very unique.
- Nanbu – Total opposite, body and head is separated and you can move the head
- Naruko – When the head and the body are twisted, it makes sound
- Togatta – Is thinner and the eyes are half moon shaped (like “croissant”)
- Yajirou – It seems like they have a hat as well as a thin waist
- Tutiya – They have a black snake on their head and painted striped rings over the body
- Kikiyama – They wear a kimono
- Yamagata – With small head and thinner body
- Hijiori – Between Naruko and Togatta, they have sharp shoulders (square)
- Zaoh – The body is round and the painting is very similar to Togatta
- Sakunami – Looks like Yaoh and Nanbu but thinner and with a baseball- bat shape
The craft people who make the Kokeshi are decreasing, many people are now making Modern style of Kokeshi so traditional style is disappearing.