Kokeshi (こけし,), are Japanese dolls, originally from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of “kokeshi” dolls is their lack of arms or legs. The bottom is typically marked with the signature of the artist.
These are pictures of a collection of everyday kokeshi dolls (as opposed to more elaborate, decorative gift dolls) for sale on the sidewalk outside the Ganshodo used bookstore on Yasukuni dori, near the Jimbocho Subway Station in the Kanda Book Town district. Ganshodo specializes in expensive Fine Art books. I like it because, for some reason, it sells a lot of Bibles, English and Japanese, and I collect Bibles. Recently these dolls have been for sale, very cheaply. I don’t know why. Some are quite big. They vary in quality. I’ve bought four since December. Each time I have to sneak them into the apartment. (It’s the same with my books.)
It is a risky thing to buy old dolls because Japanese think that dolls have souls, so bringing an old doll into a home could be a way of introducing an evil spirit. Or not. I like kokeshis because they are simple and very cultural.