Legend – Japan

The Japanese—similar to my people, Filipinos—employ a lot of folklore and supernatural myths in their culture.  My good friend, Amina, who was raised in Japan, though originally born in Kuwait, shared with me the story of the Kokeshi Dolls.  Kokeshi dolls resemble young girls in Japan from ancient times, who used to play with these very dolls.  Back in their time, the young girls would play with small dolls, keeping them as constant companions by their sides—the Kokeshi dolls.  These young girls from yesteryear are now the Shakiwarshi, which are little girl ghosts.  These Kokeshi dolls, being from ancient times, hold significant meaning to the Japanese people.  Essentially, the dolls inhabit the spirits of the young girls; they are possessed by the Shakiwarshi.

These dolls, being possessed by supernatural forces, have been observed to have such tendencies as cry with tears of blood, or even tear the regular salt-water tears.  The long black hair of the Kokeshi dolls has even been said to continue to grow on their own.  Since the Japanese value the sanctity of their ancestors, and believe that if they are to rid themselves of a Kokeshi doll that that doll would haunt them, are very careful in the ways in which they choose to disregard themselves of the Kokeshi.  Rather than just completely disregarding the dolls, they are usually given away to shrines so that they can still continue to serve some purpose.  If careful measures are not taken in ridding of a Kokeshi doll, the doll may very well curse and haunt the last possessor.

In Japan, in households that housea lot of children, there are normally several Kokeshi dolls who are just looking for a youthful companion.  Normally, they are harmless and merely just want someone with whom to play.  The Kokeshi play with mari, which are little bouncing balls.  As the Kokeshi bounce these balls, they even tend to sing little songs, chants of some sorts, all the while.  The sound of the bouncing ball and the echo of a small, distant chant are tell-tale signs that a Kokeshi is in your presence.  The Kokeshi appear in doorways of households, just looking for childhood companions.

Amina feels as though she had had an encounter with the Kokeshi when she were younger in Japan.  When she was about four years old, at her grandparents’ house—the house in which her mom grew up—in Japan, Amina recalls hearing the sound of bouncing balls as she climbed the stairs.  She saw a small person’s shadow, and heard the sound of a ball, but did not hear any of the accompanying chants or laughs that normally come with a Kokeshi doll.

It seems as though the Japanese people are not so much scared of the Kokeshi dolls, but that they highly recognize the supernatural beings in their culture, as well as respect the past and respect their elders—which is very characteristic of such cultures, specific to Asia, as the Chinese and Japanese culture.  The Kokeshi seem to be a friendly, if anything, aspect of their folkloric culture, and should not be seen as a frightening threat.