Watch as Kokeshi artisan Yasuo Okazaki carves and paints a traditional, one-of-a-kind Kokeshi Japanese Wooden Doll in the “Naruko” style from a spinning block of wood. The video was filmed by Te to Te to Te (Hand and Hand and Hand) in Sendai, Japan as a part of the organization’s mission to communicate the charm and enjoyment of traditional crafts from that region.
The origin of the Kokeshi doll is a mystery. It has been said that the Kokeshi doll started in the Tohoku district in the late Edo or early Meiji period, but there are various opinions about the birthplace. The wood crafters of the mountainside villages made it as a toy for children, and the dolls have unique designs and features rooted in each region…
The wood used to make Kokeshi dolls are from Cornel, Mono maple, Cherry trees and Pagoda. Trees are cut and dried during winter time, and artisans continue to dry them enough to shape them on a potter’s wheel with a plane or a knife, called Bankaki. The artisans draw the Kokeshi’s face and body, then apply wax on it.