In 2008 the Iwate–Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake struck the Tohoku region. The 7.2M tremor resulted in over a dozen fatalities, landslides and power outages. Local company Shimanuki, a purveyor of the kokeshi doll tradition, awoke to find almost all of their craft work toppled over. But destruction gives birth to new ideas.
As the store owners surveyed the damage, and darkness settled in, they wondered if somehow these earthquake-prone dolls couldn’t serve another purpose, particularly in a time of need. That was the spark that led to the creation of the Akari Kokeshi.
Shaped and decorated just like normal kokeshi dolls, the Akari Kokeshi is embedded with an LED flashlight that activates only when the doll is toppled over. When an earthquake strikes and the power goes out, the Akari Kokeshi will light the way. They’re available for 10,780 jpy (102 usd) in the company’s online shop.
Given the recent earthquake in Fukushima, and the fact that we’re approaching the 10-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011, there has been renewed interest in natural disaster preparedness. If you don’t know where to start, the Tokyo Government’s disaster preparedness handbook is a great resource that’s available in both Japanese and English.