Kokeshi artisans

Yoshihiro Okamoto

Born in 1972 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture as the first son of Usaburo II, Yoshihiro Okamoto

started to study under Usaburo I at the age of 20 and learned that "kokeshi is the art of expression and dolls like haiku (17-syllable poem in Japanese)." He continued to improve his skills with the aim of expressing, in a condensed and simple form, a presence that would enable kokeshi to describe a scene just by existing in it. Yoshihiro prefers keyaki, whose grain can be used effectively, and table dogwood, which has a white wooden base on which colors can be expressed easily, as materials of kokeshi, and regards chance factors in the carving process as being important. He also tries to develop forms that break with tradition a little, while making the most of the round shape created by the wheel. His kokeshi products are characterized by a style that causes people to feel motion in stillness. The colors he likes are the blue of the sky and the red of the sunset, because these colors symbolize the sense of the air in his hometown. His unique style can be observed well in "Blue Storm," which won the Prize of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in the All-Japan Kokeshi Exhibition, and "Sleeping Mountain," which was awarded the Prize of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the All-Gunma Kokeshi Contest.

  • Born in 1972 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture;
  • Began to study under Usaburo Okamoto in 1991;
  • Winner of many prizes, including the Prize of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
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