Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Kokeshi Festival Part 5 全国こけし祭りパート5

Mr. Okazaki Yasuo's 岡崎靖男 kokeshi workshop. I didn't get to go in.
As a kokeshi town Naruko is a natural location for the National Kokeshi Festival. I have to admit, though, that at a certain point things got a bit overwhelming which is probably why I didn't buy those kokeshi tea cups like I should have. Of course it was all completely enjoyable, but it was also almost impossible to do much visiting with the local kokeshi makers in their shops. Yes, yes, many of the artisans were at the main festival venue so I did see some of them along with their kokeshis, but I'm talking about visiting their actual workshops and spending hours learning about their craft over cups of tea. This activity was largely out of the question during the festival as there are 25 kokeshi makers located in and around the town. Some of these are generational families who share one shop, but even so there are plenty of different workshops to potentially visit. Come to think of it, even if we gone to Naruko just to visit the local kokeshi makers I'm not sure we could have visited all that many shops. Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that.
Mr. Okazaki Seiichi's 岡崎斉一 kokeshi workshop, just up the hill from the train station. Naoko went in for a moment while I watched the kids, but I don't think we made any purchases.
Since our goal was to attend the festival we didn't have any particular plan for shop visits like we have during other kokeshi adventures. Yet one cannot help but discover the various workshops while  wandering around town, or driving up into the hills above the onsen area, or even driving down along the main road by the river. Let's just say that kokeshi shops (as opposed to souvenier shops) are everywhere. Overall, one would probably have to spend an entire week in Naruko to visit them all, at which time you'd be wiped out financially.   
The sign for Mr. Sato Yoshihiro's 佐藤賀宏 and Ms. Sato Suzuko's 佐藤すづ子 workshop, which as I recall was closed.
This is Kokeshi no Sakurai こけしの桜井 owned by 85-year old kokeshi maker Mr.  Sakurai Shoji 桜井昭二. It's located on Kokeshi Street and was on the way to our inn. As can be seen in the photos below it's a beautiful shop that deserved more time than we could give it during the festival.
Night view looking into Kokeshi no Sakurai.
Interior of Sakurai no Kokeshi. Beautiful kokeshi noren and other hanging pieces available.
Mr. Sakurai's work area, located right inside the shop. 
Exterior view of Mr. Onuma Hideyuki's 大沼秀顯 shop. Mr. Onuma is a second generation kokeshi maker.
Here's a night view of Mr. Onuma's shop -- he and his wife definitely have a flair for decorating. When we walked by the door was wide open like this and neither Mr. or Mrs. Onuma were anywhere to be seen. That's Japan for you. 
Some Onuma kokeshis. Of course they are of the Naruko type 鳴子系. 

Actually, on the first day of our trip we did visit and spend some time at one kokeshi shop, which was up in the hills above Naruko next to a ski resort. It's a nice place owned by 71-year old Mr. Kakizawa Koretaka 柿澤是隆, his wife Mariko 眞里子, and son Yoshinobu 是伸, all three of whom are accomplished kokeshi artisans. Mr. and Mrs. Kakizawa welcomed us in, served tea and snacks, and then Mr. Kakizawa immediately took our daughters Lena and Emily out to his small field next to the house and picked some vegetables for us to take home. Later, while we were admiring the family's beautiful kokeshis, the girls were outside playing with the Kakizawa's grandsons and some other neighborhood kids. I would say we were there for about an hour, with the girls outside braving the typhoon rains that were on again, off again. Of course we bought some of their beautiful kokeshis, and then won a raffle and received another kokeshi which I'll try to discuss in an upcoming blog entry. Overall this visit was fun part of an already exciting and jam-packed kokeshi adventure!

The Kakizawa family's shop. 
Inside the shop.
Naoko and her mom discuss kokeshis with Mr. Kakizawa. 
Some Kakizawa kokeshis. Really exquisite craftsmanship, and I love the blush on the cheeks which is unusual for a Naruko kokeshi. That's probably one of Mrs. Kakizawa's pieces. Why didn't I get that one?

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