Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New-Type Kokeshis 新型こけし

At some point a non-traditional kind of kokeshi arose in Japan, the so-called Shingata kokeshi (新型こけし "New Type"), which are referred to as either Modern or Creative kokeshis. According to Evan and Wolf's book Kokeshi: Wooden Treasures of Japan these kokeshis were made all over Japan and first appeared in either the 1920s or 1940s. While Naoko and I do not really collect these per se, we recently received five older Shingata kokeshis about which we know little. They're beautiful works of art, but unlike those of the traditional world it's not easy to figure out who created them or where they're from. I checked Evan and Wolf to see if I could find any matches, but none of these were in the book. Therefore, I'm simply posting these pictures for fun and as examples of how wonderfully creative Japan's modern kokeshi makers have been since the old days.
This beauty is about five inches high and does not have the craftsman's name on the bottom. My uneducated guess is that it was made in the 1950s.

The above is also about five inches and is fascinating -- it's so stylized it doesn't even have a mouth! The image on the right is the artisan's name. 1950s?

The kokeshis above and below were made by the same artist. Note how close the below is to a traditional kokeshi. When these were made is unkown. The 1970s?


The final kokeshi below is also by an unknown artist from an unknown time period. Very appealing.


  1. The second one possibly is made by Katase Kaihei. I have one from him and it has the same signature. The seller says that he has won the National Japanese Kokeshi competition.

    1. Layla, thank you for that information. Best, John

  2. The two after the Katase Kaihei identified by Layla are by Kaganuma Masayuki.

  3. Hello, a note about the second one. Katase Kaihei has indeed produced similar designs, I believe, early in his carrier. He was established in Hakone, still making kokeshi dolls in 2014, when I met him - at that time, his signature has changed. He passed away in 2015.