Japanese Dolls

The day after Christmas I flew off to a destination far different than anywhere I’ve ever been before. Japan was a new adventure, a place to find fresh inspiration for a new year.

My Mom’s family lived in Asia when she and her siblings were growing up, so we’ve had various artifacts from Asian cultures all over our home. My grandparents received this Japanese doll as a gift when they were overseas, and I’ve always loved it so much.

photo 2

It was my dream to see a living breathing Geisha or Maiko (Geisha in training) while I was in Kyoto, Japan… but unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side. I’m fascinated by their look! However, we did catch a glimpse of many beautiful women dressed in Kimonos for the New Year.

I picked up a few traditional books with artwork depicting the style and dress of kimonos at a book shop in Tokyo. Flipping through them inspired a lady of my own…


I loved the wooden Kokeshi doll my mom had in our home, so when I went to Japan I made it my goal to find a special one of my own. The name Kokeshi comes from the combined meaning of “small wooden doll”.

The simplicity of the Kokeshi dolls (and the simplicity of Japanese style in general) is beautiful. Here are a few Kokeshi inspired watercolors from my sketchbook while I was in Japan…

Kokeshi_1 Kokeshi_3 Kokeshi_4 Kokeshi_6Kokeshi_5

  1. Konnichi wa Katie-san!!!
    (Sorry… I just had to!) ^.^

    Happy New Year!!!
    Since I was very young, I was always fascinated by the Japanese culture! Clothes, food, traditions, colors, fonts… you name it!

    I wish I could visit Tokyo. I hope I can, someday! Kokeshi dolls are beautiful. Did you knew that, in the feudal era, they were made, so that one’s ancestor’s spirit could materialize when it’s family member needed advice?! 🙂

    On Twitter, I was able to see some of the pictures you posted… specially the drawing book with black pages… 🙂
    Can’t wait to see what surprises yo us till have to share with us… ….

    I hope you keep having a great week!
    All the best Katie!!!


  2. I loved following your posts on Instagram while you were there! So so beautiful! And I was very curious to see how the trip would inspire your work. It wonderful as always!

  3. Katie, I think you’ve captured the spirit so perfectly here.

    Japan was the first place I lived as an expat. Leaving Australia in my late teens, I was sheltered and naive. Japan is where I grew up and learnt to look after myself. Seven countries later, I credit my experiences there as what sparked my lifelong quest for the other, in search of beauty and grace.

    I watched your journey via Instagram – at once envious and grateful for the reminder of such a special and beautiful place.

    Thanks so much once again for sharing your talent and passion.



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