The highlight of day two, though, had to have been seeing the results of the national kokeshi competition, the winners of which were displayed on the auditorium's stage. I noticed that there were actually a lot of awards, though I'm not sure it's the case that every kokeshi maker who enters wins something. Undoubtedly this moment is the pinnacle of kokeshi-dom, as it were, so it really is a must-see event for all enthusiasts. It has to be huge for the craftsmen as well.
Overall, the National Kokeshi Festival was a grade-A installment in our on-going kokeshi adventures!
|A view of the "main street" of the kokeshi festival.|
|Naruko type kokeshi maker Mr. Hayasaka Toshiyori 早坂利成さん working on a kokeshi head on the foot-powered lathe.|
|This was made on the foot-powered lathe. It took awhile to make, but as can be seen it's perfect.|
|This year's winning kokeshis.|
|And still more. The sign on top says The 57th National Kokeshi Festival Winning Pieces. The lower sign behind the Tsugaru kokeshi says "These aren't for sale." Too bad.|
|Another view of some winners. The Naruko kokeshi in the foreground, by Mr. Kakizawa Yoshinobu 柿澤是伸さん (the son from the family's shop we visited the previous day), won the Naruko Onsen Tourism Association President's award.|
|Four beautiful Naruko kokeshis by Mr. Sakurai Akihiro 桜井昭寛さん, whose shop Naoko visited briefly the previous day. These items were reserved, but I'm not sure how the system worked.|
|Beautiful reserved-sale Yajiro kokeshis 弥治郎系 by Mr. Niiyama Manabu 新山学さん of Shiroishi City 白石市 in Miyagi Prefecture. Shiroishi is also a well-known kokeshi-making town that, sadly, has been contaminated somewhat by the Fukushima disaster.|
|We can tell that the kokeshi on the left is a Yajiro kokeshis 弥治郎系 because of the rings on the head. However, I'm unsure of the craftsman. It's a fantastic piece though.|
|Another view of some kokeshis on display.|
|This panda was wandering around the venue floor, and is apparently a fan of traditional kokeshis. And really, what event isn't improved with a guy in a panda suit?|
|Naruko's Kokeshi Jinja (Shinto shrine), devoted to kokeshis. I'm not sure if there's a patron saint of kokeshis or what, but if you look closely at the photograph near the stairs you'll notice a giant kokeshi standing there.|