Tsugaru kokeshi originated in Aomori Prefecture on the far northern tip of Honshu. They were created in the early 20th century by an artisan named Hidetarou Mori (1895-1986), whose descendants continue to make Tsugaru kokeshi today.
These kokeshi are characterized by their cylindrical heads, hair designed to look like bobs or chignons, and U-shaped noses. Many Tsugaru kokeshi are shaped like elongated bells with a wide, round “bust,” a narrow “waist,” and a flared base. The upper halves of the dolls are painted with Ainu-inspired arabesque designs, while the waists and bottoms of the dolls’ bases are striped. A design is usually painted between the waist and base of the doll; the design is often either a fierce-looking daruma or a red peony.
A Tsugaru kokeshi made by Yoshiki Sato. These dolls originated in Aomori Prefecture and are often characterized by their smiles, round noses, and “waists” that are narrower than the rest of their bodies. Many also have daruma faces or floral motifs painted onto their bodies.