This kokeshi doll, a traditional Japanese doll consisting of only a body and a head, is decorated with kusudama and fukinagashi, traditional decorations for the Tanabata summer star festival. The doll is painted with black hair tied in pigtails with red bows, red and silver kusudama, multicolored fukinagashi streamers, and green leaves. Her face is painted gazing downward. Painted on the base of the doll are the kanji characters for Tanabata. The back of the doll is mostly unpainted except for her hair.
Tanabata (the "Evening of the seventh") is the Japanese star festival, originating from a Chinese folktale, "The Weaver and the Cowherd." It celebrates the yearly meeting of the lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair, respectively), separated by the Milky Way. The date of Tanabata varies by region in Japan, but it generally begins on the 7th day of the 7th month (July 7th). People generally celebrate Tanabata today by writing wishes on tanzaku, small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo. Other decorations are symbolic of other wishes, and include paper cranes (orizuru) for family safety and health, paper purses (kinchaku) for good business and a paper trash bag (kuzukago) for cleanliness and thriftiness, among others.
Kokeshi are traditional Japanese dolls distinctive for their lack of arms and legs. Kokeshi are often painted red and black, occasionally with yellow as well. They originated as souvenirs for visitors to the hot springs of the Tohoku region in northern Japan during the Edo period (1600-1868), and there are several distinct types according to size, shape, facial details, and so on, each associated with a different onsen (hot spring) of that area. Most kokeshi are signed and dated on the base.