|Welcome to Iwaki|
Because we expected a long drive we were on the road by 7:30 am, picked up my father-in-law on the way, and got on the Joban Highway (常磐高速道路) by about 9:15 am. Yes, it took over 1.5 hours to actually get to the highway -- that's Tokyo city driving for you. In absolutely perfect weather we headed north from the Oizumi Interchange, encountering some light traffic at first, and were at the Iwaki exit by about 11:30. It took about another thirty minutes to find the kokeshi workshop which was a house located in a semi-residential, semi-agricultural area in the city suburbs. Note: Non-Japanese beware. This is another place that would be impossible to find without Japanese-language reading ability.
|Giant kokeshis. Much to everyone's horror I knocked over the one on the right. Fortunately, no harm done!|
As with other kokeshi workshops we have visited, there was a chance to watch kokeshis being made, and on this day one of the sons was at the lathe making kokeshi bodies. Mr. and Mrs. Sato also make kokeshis, as does their other son. It is always fun to see kokeshis being born, as it were.
|In the studio.|
We were welcomed right in for some tea and cookies, to talk kokeshis, and to see what they had to offer. Dozens of nicely arranged kokeshis adorned the studio, organized by whichever family member had made them. Once again we were overwhelmed by the choices offered, especially since each was so beautiful. The Satos make a wide variety of kekeshi sizes, from the absolutely tiny to enormous. I liked the huge ones (about 1.5 feet high), but at 35,000 yen each I'll have to save my money.
|Standard kokeshis that are now part of our collection.|
|Telltale concentric rings of a Yajiro kokeshi.|
|Small, but not the tiniest.|
|Freshly painted kokeshis that will become seals.|