Fun Link Friday: Cultural Icon Kokeshi

Kokeshi (こけし) are a kind of traditional Japanese doll, typically created from a single block of wood with a long, cylindrical body and bulbous head.

Although their origins are not known, you’ll find them as a staple in souvenir shops in northern areas of Japan. These dolls are typically painted with patterned designs in red and black to suggest clothing and feature simplified faces with rounded eyes.

Many Japanese woodworkers also create modern cultural figures in the style of kokeshi to attract visitors, and a recent article from Hint magazine has highlighted how an English artist, too, has taken to making kokeshi with well-known people as her inspiration.

Becky Kemp creates custom kokeshi of pop icons, historical figures, and even her customers! If it wasn’t enough to get traditional kokeshi on your trip to Japan, you might consider this modern twist for yourself or as a gift to a friend who loves Japan. Check out a huge number of photographs of these neat kokeshi at the original Hint article, on her instagram, or website.

Photo from

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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