5 Tohoku cities seeking to put “kokeshi” dolls on Japan Heritage list

12 January 2017

Five cities in the northeastern Japanese region of Tohoku, including Fukushima city, have launched a drive to have traditional “kokeshi” wooden dolls registered on the government’s Japan Heritage list with the full support of a local craftsmen’s association known as Mirokukai.

Also involved in the campaign are three cities in Miyagi Prefecture -- Shiroishi, Osaki and Sendai -- and Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture. Officials from the five cities gathered in Shiroishi in December for their first meeting to discuss issues associated with application for registration on the list hosted by the Cultural Affairs Agency. These issues include the preparation of stories linking kokeshi with state-designated cultural properties, a requirement necessary for registration. The officials confirmed that they will continue information exchanges.

Fukushima plans to spur the drive by holding a talk show and other events during the annual Tsuchiyu Kokeshi Festival organized by the parties concerned in the city, including the Tsuchiyu-Onsen Tourist Association comprising “onsen” (hot spring) operators in the city’s Tsuchiyu-Onsen area. “We would like to seek registration so we can leave for future generations the kokeshi culture that has a tradition of a few hundred years,” said Mirokukai chief Yukinori Jinnohara, who doubles as president of the Tsuchiyu Kokeshi Association. “We will make efforts to promote hands-on experience as well in which people can readily touch kokeshi.”

(Translated by Kyodo News)