Japanese perfection with light with elegant simplicity and perfectionNovember 22, 2018
Japanese design is known for its elegant simplicity and perfection. And because it’s so stylish and beyond any doubt, there’s the exact opposite of it, and that is kawaii. It is a very important word in Japan, the joyous expression for sweetish cuteness. kawaii may be a Hello Kitty vacuum cleaner, a Takashi Murakami purse, a schoolgirl outfit of a Japanese teenager, or a traditional Japanese wooden doll.
These Kokeshi dolls represent young girls in a very simplified way, they are the perfect combination of the two design contrasts of Japan. Cute and simple, committed to good taste and yet incredible kawaii.
Traditionally, the dolls consist of a cylindrical body with an oval head. Also her painting is exact, but sparse, classic in the colors red, black and yellow. They are covered with a light wax layer, which is intended as protection and gives them a fine shine with a pleasant feel. The wood of the dolls should come from fruit trees and definitely store for several years before it is used. On Kokeshi competitions, which are popular among collectors, the puppets are judged on the balance of their wood pieces and their painting.
Originally, the Kokeshis come from northern Japan, from the six regions of Tohoku Province. They are classified into eleven different types, depending on the painting and the shape. About the origin of the dolls there are again different theories, but only one is the right one. And this: The first dolls were turned in the early 19th century by woodcarvers in Tohuko, to sell them to the visitors of the hot springs of the place Naruko. They were souvenirs and children’s toys, only the collectors made them around 1920 artifacts of national cultural heritage.
From souvenir to collectibles
The theory that the dolls were made for parents as a reminder of their deceased children who died in one of the many famines in the area is fortunately not confirmed. The dolls are mainly distributed in rural areas with tourism. This has a long tradition in the early industrialized country as a nostalgic return to the good, simple life. Yanagita Kunio (1875-1962), who is considered the father of Japanese folklore, was of the opinion that true modernity could only take place through reference to the rural past.
In addition to the traditional models, there are also modern Kokeshis since the end of the Second World War. Here, the artist has complete freedom of design, he does not have to abide by form or color rules, which is not always beneficial.
These dolls originated from an initiative that wanted to give the woodcarvers of the region new work. While the traditional models are elegant harbingers of the kawaii seemingly modern, serially made dolls often look like manga dwarves made of wood. Such dolls you get for little money in every souvenir shop and even on the last pusher at the airport.
The collectors market for modern high-quality dolls from well-known woodcarvers is also huge. In the small village of Naruko Onsen there is a museum and a whole Kokeshipuppen street. If you’re into vintage dolls, visit the Oedo flea market, held twice a month in Tokyo. Which doll in the end always creates the way to them, one thing they will definitely be: Kawaii.
The author travels the world for her Berlin shop “International Wardrobe”. What she finds there, she introduces here
Source: Die Welt