Kokeshi artisans

Yuuji Okamoto, Usaburo II

Born in 1948 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, Yuuji Okamoto was the first son of Usaburo I. He grew up with his father's strong desire to build the leading kokeshi studio in Japan. Yuuji began to study kokeshi-making under his father at the age of 22, and inherited the spirit of kokeshi carving of his father, who tried to make the most of the colors and grains of materials. Believing that "kokeshi should be simple," Yuuji strives to express peace of mind and warmth in the simple shapes of his kokeshi products. The form of his kokeshi based on the theme of little girls, such as those named "Yearning," "Invitation," "Keyaki Girl," and "Little Girl's Spring Season," has a sense of plumpness and softness and will make you smile for the nostalgia and sweet memories these kokeshi dolls give you. Yuuji's kokeshi "Moonlight Night" won the Prize of the Minster of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at the All-Gunma Kokeshi Contest in 2009; this kokeshi expresses a little girl together with a rabbit looking up at a full moon. Yuuji used young blue keyaki with a white bark, which had been seasoned for eight years, to carve this kokeshi, and succeeded in expressing the world of a little girl dreaming in the moonlight.

  • Born in 1948 in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture;
  • Began to study under Usaburo Okamoto in 1970;
  • Winner of many prizes, including the Prize of the Minister of International Trade and Industry.
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