Kokeshi are simple wooden Japanese dolls. They have asimple trunk and a rounded head with painted features, so they are a design which can be adapted easily to needlepoint.This shopping site has a great explanation of what these dolls are. They also have a varied selection of dolls.
This folk art has many people making lovely modern and traditional dolls. Poking around the web, I found some great sites with inspirations for needlepoint. Kokeshi Designs has delightful dolls, grouped by categories. To find the most typical, click on “girls” on the left column. Jun Japanese Gifts has many unorganized pages of kokeshi. These are not the hand-made Kokeshi of Kokeshi Designs, but there are over 100 doll here, so that’s lots of inspiration. This site, which only has three dolls, shows the striped kimono and columnar design I remember from my younger years (though why I don’t know).
Sublime Stitching has a free pattern which you could print out, maybe enlarge a bit and trace onto canvas for your own Kokeshi design. I would leave out the flowers on the kimono and use a similar pattern as the idea for the stitch. What about Double Upright Cross in an subtle overdye with one or two stitches picked out in another color?
The hair sticks and eyelashes should be straight stitches in a thick thread and why not use a Japanesey looking blackwork pattern as the background?
If you made the background relatively small this could be a great Christmas ornament for a little girl.
I am so ready to make one myself. Maybe our LAS series fore next year will be Kokeshi dolls.