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approximate size: height - 39cm
these wooden treasures first appeared in the mid edo period (1603-1867). while there remains some discussion regarding their origins, it is most commonly believed that they were originally crafted as toys by wood craftsman from northern japan who were unable to work for months at a time during heavy snow in the winter. although they come in numerous shapes, sizes and styles, they are classified into two groups: traditional (dento) and creative (sosaku). the traditional types were the first to be produced sometime in the 18th century and the creative type has developed since the late 1940s. following the devastation of wwii, products made of plastic were too expensive and overseas trips were unattainable. japanese frequently made trips all over japan to hot springs where kokeshi, which were now sold as tourist souvenirs (rather than toys) flourished. it became a custom to buy a kokeshi or two as a momento of the trip. their development and popularity peaked particularly in the 1950s and 1970s. during this time most japanese families had a sideboard in their living room filled with kokeshi and other collectibles. our vintage kokeshi are from the 1950s onwards. unfortunately, they are rapidly disappearing in modern japan making them all the more precious.
watanabe masao 1917-2007
he originally studied as a traditional yajirou artisan under master sato tatsuo. he has won numerous awards and is one of the few artisans whose work is permanently exhibited at the nuremberg toy museum in germany.