Kokeshi Dolls have been around since at least the Tempo period (1830-1843) of the edo era. However, there are claims that Kokeshi dolls appeared even earlier during the Bunka/Bunsei period of 1804-1829. Some say that the dolls were produced as an object of faith, a "phallic" symbol of worship, a talisman created to ensure a successful harvest and even as a representation of a departed child. However the most wildy-held belief is the Kokeshi doll was one of the 1st toys for the children of the Kiya-ya who lived in the mountainous region of Tohuku.

There are 2 types of Kokeshi Dolls, traditional and creative. The traditional are created following certain, long-established guidelines regarding the styles and shapes of painting. The creative version of the Kokeshi Doll was created sometime later by artists who followed the traditional undertaking but were free from the traditional styles. Today, the Kokeshi Dolls are the most celebrated traditional folk art item in Japan and the most widely collected.