Naoko is a big fan of darker woods used for making kokeshis, so when she saw the subject of this blog during her trip to Japan this summer I guess she couldn't help herself. In this beautiful piece by Togatta kokeshi 遠刈田系こけし master craftsman Sato Masahiro 佐藤正廣さん of Sendai the doll appears to be emerging from a raw piece of wood for a stunning effect. It's almost as though the kokeshi was inside the log just waiting to be released!
The wood Mr. Sato used is called Ichi'izai 一位材, or Japanese Yew, a kind of evergreen tree native to Japan and northeastern Asia. It has a very interesting grain that Mr. Sato has worked into the kokeshi's design.
|This view shows the upper back half of the doll. You can see that Mr. Sato took the time to paint a flower design here, which is an unusual but welcome touch.|
|Here's a close up of the side showing the grain.|
|The face is classic Togatta.|
Finally we get to the underside of the kokeshi where we can see how nice the woodgrain is. From this view it also looks as though Mr. Sato may have used a stain to give the wood its sheen. I've never seen that before. The bottom characters say "Masahiro," while the darker characters say "Ichi'izai" which is of course the wood used to make this kokeshi.