Kokeshi artisans

Yoshie Okamoto

Born in 1950 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, Yoshie Okamoto grew watching her mother paint kokeshi. She joined Usaburo Kokeshi at the age of 19 and studied under Usaburo I. Yoshie engages in kokeshi-making from the initial stage of preparing plain woodwork. Her products, including "Cherry Blossoms in the Dream," "Spring Sunlight," "Fall of the Provinces," and "Wind Flower," express natural scenery in each kokeshi doll. Beautiful cherry blossoms against a blue sky, maples in low mountains near a village about to shed their leaves, and snowflakes dancing like falling flowers on a fine winter day: all of these are common views in the region. Yoshie puts her love for her hometown into her works in each of the carving and painting stages. The delicate and beautiful designs and soft colors she creates are highly regarded. At the All-Japan Kokeshi Contest in 1985, she won the Prime Minister's Prize with "Passage of Time," the first time a female kokeshi artisan had won the prize. Her father, who is also her strongest supporter, congratulated her on winning of the prize with flowers he picked from his garden; she remembers this vividly.

  • Born in 1950 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture;
  • Began to study under Usaburo Okamoto in 1969;
  • Winner of many prizes, including the Prime Minister's Prize.
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