Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mini Kokeshis

We saw these in the Usaburo factory museum.
There's a branch of the kokeshi world that goes beyond small into the realm of tiny. I'll call them mini-kokeshis for lack of a better term. These little guys are amazing, and among traditional kokeshis they are often exact duplicates of their larger sisters. Believe it or not these aren't the smallest ones out there, but I'll save those for another blog. If one were to specialize in mini-kokeshis he could have hundreds in the same space as dozens of regular-sized kokeshis. Naoko seems to prefer them, and we've heard that young Japanese females really like them for their cuteness. Therefore, we'll probably see more of these in the future.
Our first mini-kokeshis were two modern ones received from Naoko's dear old aunt. She had purchased them as souveniers decades ago, and when she found out that we liked kokeshis she gave them to us. One can see their diminutive size by comparing them to an American penny. By the way, we know that these are Usaburo kokeshis from Gunma Prefecture since we saw them displayed in the museum at the Usaburo factory (see blog post). Therefore, we have a couple of museum pieces in our collection!
We found another mini-kokeshi recently at a local bazaar, which is possibly a Yajiro (弥治郎系). It was about 150 yen, a more-than-reasonable price, especially considering its condition. It's about 2.5 times the size of a penny.
The Sato (佐藤) family makes mini Yajiro kokeshis. We visited their workshop in Iwaki City, Fukushima on March 6th (see blog post), and less than a week later they were forced to move to Gunma Prefecture as a result of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami disaster. I'll discuss that in a future blog. Important here is that the Satos also make mini-kokeshis. In fact Mr. Sato told Naoko that his tiny ones (he makes at least ten different ones) are really the peak of his craft because they require such fine detail. See what you think.

A tiny Sato kokeshi. The hand-painted detail is stunning.
Another tiny Sato kokeshi next to a regular-sized Sato piece.
The same tiny kokeshi. For perspective, here's a Princess Leia action figure dwarfing the mini-kokeshi.


1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to seeing your personal collection! I am beginning to believe I didn't buy enough!