The Tohoku region is known for its kokeshi wooden dolls. Most are slender and fairly small, though some are nearly life-sized such as the one pictured to the left that welcomes visitors to Sendai train station.


kokeshi sembei (rice crackers)

Each "doll" is made of of two crackers: a round "head" and an oblong "body" wrapped in a single cellophane paper that has been painted with faces (the round portion) and kimono-like patterns (the oblong portion). Most that are sold will contain roasted soybeans or peanuts in the round face portion.

A Taste of the Tohoku

Come discover FOODS and CRAFTS of the Tohoku region... This issue features KOKESHI dolls.

Classic kokeshi dolls

Different regions within the Tohoku will use different patterns and shapes.
PLEASE support economic recovery of the Tohoku region by making a contribution to Sponsor Fellows for Tohoku and Japan’s Recovery. This project, launched and managed by Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC) has a dual goal: creating jobs in the area devastated by the disaster and developing a new generation of business leaders in Japan. To learn more about the Fellows Project, click here.

hina ningyō dolls

In celebration of Hina Matsuri, households with young girls display dolls from mid-February through March 3 (the day of the festival). In the Tohoku, these dolls are made of wood in the kokeshi fashion whereas other parts of Japan will clothe porcelain and/or straw dolls in brocade kimono.
These cute kokeshi bentō boxes can be filled with takikomi gohan.

For a recipe, click here.