Towada Kokeshi exterior view.
Anyway, we were happy to find the place, examine and photograph the kokeshis, and talk with Mr. Takase's son who told us that things have gotten really bad for all of the local businesses at Towada since the nuclear disaster. Tourism has almost completely dried up, and not only are people not visiting from the Tokyo area, but they're also not coming down from Hokkaido, apparently out of fear of radiation in the Tohoku. This is misplaced fear by the way -- I recently checked radiation levels for Japan's prefectures and Aomori (as well as Akita, Yamagata, and Iwate) are much lower than the Kanto Plain. If the tourists do not return to Aomori it's pretty clear what will happen to Towada Kokeshi and the other shops, restaurants and inns along the lake. When we were there on a perfect late June day you could have counted the number of visitors on two hands.
|Medium-sized Takase kokeshis.|
Although this was a genuine kokeshi adventure, and we bought three Takase kokeshis of various sizes, the visit was certainly tinged with some melancholy. American and foreign readers: The impact of the 3-11 disaster is real, is far-reaching, and there's still no end in sight for many because of the Fukushima disaster. If you can support the kokeshi makers and other traditional craftsmen please do. The best way would be to visit northeastern Japan as a tourist, but if that's not possible at the very least please keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers.
|Ejiko (えじこ) kokeshis and a Daruma.|
|Large and giant Takase kokeshis.|
|In the shop.|
|The sign says: "Welcome. Takase. Kokeshis of Lake Towada."|