Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are These Kokeshis?

When we went to the All Gunma Kokeshi Concours on February 12th, we discovered these two amazing pieces among the kokeshis for sale. The difficult part is, how should they be categorized? The one on the left is a kendama (剣玉), a traditional Japanese toy. Because it has a face and an oversized head it is somewhat different than traditional kendamas that typically have just a proportional red round ball for a head. The other example looks something like a squat traditional kokeshi, but it is actually a holder for whatever you would like. We use this one to hold plastic rice scoops, but one could use it for pencils and pens, chopsticks, sunglasses, small sheets of paper, screwdrivers, etc. Is it a kokeshi? I don't know. The man who made it also makes modern kokeshis, so I'll ask him what he calls it if we meet him in the future. By the way, the price for the kendama was about 1,500 yen, while the hollow kokeshi was 500 yen. For a handmade, hand-painted craft from Japan, this was an absolute bargain. Why didn't we get more of them?

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