What Is A Japanese Kokeshi Doll?
Christmas is fast approaching and for those doing their last minute shopping now is the time for an inspired idea. If you’re looking for a different present for a loved one this year; then a Japanese Themed Christmas Gift may be the answer to this.
Japanese culture is full of ideas and notions that are a lot different form our own culture, and one area of this is their fondness for items such a s lucky charms and lucky animals that have a lot of meaning tied to them. One such example of this is the Japanese Kokeshi Doll.
A Kokeshi doll is a wooden doll made from a simple trunk as the body and an enlarged head which has a simple design. The body is often decorated in a floral pattern and tends to be either red, yellow or black. One of the main characteristics that is most noticeable is that there are no arms and legs. The artists tend to leave their signature on the bottom of the doll.
Origins Of The Kokeshi Doll
Kokeshi Dolls are thought to originate from Northern Japan, and were first produced by kijishi artisans who were skilled at the use of a potter’s wheel in the Togotta Onsen area in Zao, and then spread to other spa areas in the Tohoku region. It’s thought the dolls first came around in the middle portion of the Edo period (from 1600 – 1868) to be so to people who were visiting the hot springs in the north eastern part of the country.
Traditional Kokeshi doll shapes and patterns are particular to a certain area and there are eleven classifications. The most dominant type of this is the Naruko style of Kokeshi doll, which comes from Miyagi Prefecture originally. The main street of the Naurko Onsen village is known as Kokeshi street and is full of shops operated by the carvers of the Kokeshi dolls.
Other Japanese Lucky Charms
Alongside the Kokeshi doll, there are a whole host of other lucky charms available such as:
Lucky cats – One of the most common Japanese Lucky Animals is the Japanese lucky cat – also known as the Maneki-neko this translates as ‘beckoning cat’. You may have encountered this in an Asian restaurant or shop (popular in both Japan and in China, as they are a symbol of luck), prosperity success and happiness. They tend to sit on top of the till or cash register waving good luck to customers. They come in a range of colours and always have a raised paw. Most Japanese Lucky Cats tend to have a bib, a collar and a gold coin which is decorated.
Lucky owls – Another popular Japanese lucky charm is the Japanese Lucky Owl (or in Japanese Fukurou) the Japanese owl symbolises luck and is thought to prevent a person from suffering. It is believed that different colours of lucky owl have different attributes when it comes to luck. Some Japanese owls also represent wisdom; however this is a less common belief in modern times and is thought to have been a popular notion in the Meijiperiod.
Kokeshi Dolls As A Christmas Gift
Japanese lucky charms make great Christmas gifts, as they are an interesting looking addition to a house, whether or not that is eastern themed or not. And also for those who believe in lucky charms and the benefits that surround them, then they will be greatly received.