Wednesday, November 2, 2011

National Kokeshi Festival Part 6 全国こけし祭りパート6

Day two of the National Kokeshi Festival was a lot like day one of the festival, which was fine. There was a Naruko Town fire truck outside the main hall that was decked out with some nice kokeshi art, and the firefighters who came with the truck managed to dragoon my eight year old into trying CPR on the practice dummy. Although not kokeshi related (apart from the fire truck's artwork),  that was fairly educational. Inside the auditorium there was another demonstration of the foot-powered lathe of which I am still extremely impressed. Of course it's not the lathe so much as the expert working it, but the machine is so primitive that it was jaw-dropping to see the high quality kokeshis the craftsmen were turning out on it. We bought a couple of small ones made on that lathe, so I can personally attest to their quality and beauty.
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. 
More winners. 
And more.
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.
These exquisite Naruko kokeshis have unusually realistic faces that appear to be looking up slightly as a child might. That's a neat effect. Again, they were on reserved sale. Interestingly, the maker, Mr. Matsutani Shinkichi 松谷伸吉さん, is not located in Naruko onsen but in Shimane Prefecture 島根県?  
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. 
A number of kokeshikas コケーシカ (kokeshi+ matryoshka) on display at the festival. Matryoshkas are, of course, the famous Russian nesting dolls, though it seems that back in the 19th century the Russians were directly influenced by the Japanese nesting doll tradition. So these Japaense hybrids are coming full circle. 
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.

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