Sunday, February 26, 2012

I think it's reasonable to say that enthusiasts of traditional kokeshis would probably prefer to live somewhere in Tohoku, perhaps Sendai, or Yamagata City (maybe even Fukushima, radiation or not). The next best thing is probably Tokyo. After all, we're just a five-hour drive from Sendai, we have the Kokeshi Tomo no Kai and a couple of shops that sell kokeshis. Plus from time to time, there are visits to our fair city by traditional kokeshi makers. Last year I blogged about a Miyagi Prefecture 宮城県 products exhibition down in Ikebukuro in which kokeshi makers played an active role. Similarly, today we went downtown to the massive Tobu department store in Ikebukuro where there was a huge exhibition of traditional handmade Japanese goods from all over Japan -- cloth, pottery, furniture (tansu and Butsudan), woven bamboo baskets, traditional brushes and tools, you name it. It was really quite something, and judging by the number of people milling around it was also very well received. I must say that there is no lack of interest among Japanese in their traditional handicrafts, which pleases me to no end.
There were also two kokeshi displays, one from Naruko Onsen in Miyagi, and one from Yuzawa Onsen in Akita about which I just wrote in this blog two days ago. Yes, of course we went to this show specifically to see the kokeshi makers and give them some support. We were definitely not disappointed, and apparently they were quite popular! The Kijiyama kokeshis 木地山系 from Akita Prefecture 秋田県 were pretty spectacular, and Naoko got to chat with Mr. Miharu Fumio 三春文雄さん, a kokeshi craftsman who, it turns out, lives five minutes from where we were during our visit to Yuzawa Onsen 湯沢温泉 last summer. Hopefully we'll get to see him the next time we're up in that area. We bought three charming Kijiyamas which can be seen in the photos below. We also spoke with Mr. Sato Yoshihiro 佐藤賀宏さん, a Naruko kokeshi 鳴子系 maker who was at the exhibition, and purchased one of his unique kokeshis. I don't remember seeing him during our trip to Naruko last year, but he must have been there. Anyway, the large crowd of people at the exhibition made it a bit difficult to spend time really examining the kokeshis, but I think we got some good ones. Kokeshi Adventure in downtown Tokyo: Mission accomplished!

The Kijiyama kokeshi booth with Mr. Miharu in the plaid shirt. The fellow on the left inspecting the kokeshi had just knocked over about five or six kokeshis, and it was funny to see that Kijiyamas fall over a lot like bowling pins.
Kijiyama kokeshis. I was not aware of the variety in the Kijiyama world.
These beauties are by Mr. Takahashi Yuji who we met last summer. It was like seeing old friends.
This poster was on the wall at the Kijiyama booth, and I was surprised to see that instead of the name "Kijiyama" it says Kawatsura Kokeshi 川連こけし. What is that?
Naoko chatting with Mr. Sato about his wonderful kokeshis.
We bought these three Kijiyamas. The one on the left is by a craftsam who is 84 years old.
I always say that it's the faces on the kokeshis that surprise me the most.  Genius.
We bought this nice Naruko piece by Mr. Sato. Unlike most Narukos it's short and squat, making it quite unique.

No comments:

Post a Comment