Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hina Kokeshi 雛こけし

March 3rd in Japan is called Hina Matsuri 雛祭り, or Girls' Day, and every year people in Japan pull their Girls' Day dolls out of storage and put them on display. These displays, representing the medieval Japanese imperial court, are traditional dolls with elaborate clothing, hair, and even accouterments. There's also always a male-female pair. In my opinion they're interesting, but not overly so. Fortunately, both modern and traditional kokeshi makers have decided to make Hina kokeshis, which as a kokeshi enthusiast I obviously find much more appealing. Despite being a rather exotic branch of the kokeshi world they somehow manage to retain their fundamental kokeshi-ness, making them the clear choice for Girls' Day. From what I can tell a good number of traditional kokeshi craftsmen are making Hina kokeshis, so there's a large variety from all kokeshi families to choose from. Below are photos of our Hina kokeshis, a collection that will undoubtedly continue to grow in the future. 
Hina kokeshis by Mr. Hiraga Teruyuki 平賀輝幸さんfrom Sakunami Onsen 作並温泉 near Sendai City.
Tsugaru-type 津軽系 kokeshi craftsman Mr. Abo Muchihide's innovative fan-shaped Hina kokeshis. The faces are exactly like his normal, full-sized kokeshis by the way.
Hey! The heads come off and become tops! 
Abo Muchihide's brother Mr. Abo Kanemitsu made these fairly small Hina kokehis.
The bigger version of Mr. Abo Kanemitsu's Hina kokeshis. Look closely at the two pictures to spot the differences.
The image on the left is a poster for the on-going Hina kokeshi exhibit at the Tsugaru Kokeshi Kan, which ends on 20 March. Apparently it's so snowy up in Kuroishi right now that guests are few and far between, but if my family was living up in Aomori we would definitely brave the weather and go see the Hina kokeshi collection! The kokeshi art on the poster is of Mr. Abo's kokeshis pictured above. If the exhibit sounds interesting but you won't be able to get to Aomori to see it, please take at look at the Kokeshi Kan blog which has posted a number of pictures (February 2012 posts) of the collection. Here's direct link, which is in Japanese of course Kokeshi Kan Blog

I've probably given the impression that only traditional kokeshi makers are making Hina kokeshis, which is simply not the case. Here are a couple of very nice modern-style Hina kokeshis that, as usual, show how creative Japanese artists can be with a small piece of wood and some paint.
Modern ball-type Hina kokeshis. Fantastic!
Two more modern ball-type Hina kokeshis. Lena won these at the recent Modern Kokeshi Exhibition in Maebashi City. I'll have to blog about that soon.

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