Sunday, March 25, 2012

Akiu Craft Park 秋保工芸の里

An explanation of the Akiu Craft Park.
During our big Sakunami kokeshi adventure we drove from downtown Sendai up into the mountains to a place called Akiu kogei no sato 秋保工芸の里, or Akiu Craft Park. We discovered the place on the Internet and figured we had to go since there were three kokeshi makers there along with other traditional craftsmen such as a fellow who makes Sendai Tansu 仙台箪笥, a traditional wood carver, and another guy who makes wooden tops. It's really a neat place and sits next to a large athletic complex where I took the girls while Naoko explored the shops and hunted for kokeshis.
We actually went to the Craft Park twice, and dedicated readers may recall that in a previous blog I described our second trip there at which time we visited Mr. Suzuki's kokeshi shop. On this day, though, we visited Sato Kokeshiya 佐藤こけし屋 owned by the Sato family that makes Sendai-Akiu kokeshis 仙台秋保こけし, a branch of Togatta-type kokeshis 遠刈田系こけし, and Wagatsuma Kokeshi 我妻こけし owned by the Wagatsuma family that makes Togatta kokeshis.
Sato Kokeshiya exterior.
I didn't really go into the Sato shop, and oddly Naoko didn't buy any of their kokeshis. There's something about the Sendai-Akiu design that she doesn't like. According to Naoko it's the hair on the left and right side of the head that's been so stylized that it looks like a small sheet of dried seaweed. Once she said that, well, it started to look like that to me too! But you know, I didn't really care for Naruko kokeshis at first, but now I really like them, so it seems that one gets used to certain kokeshi families. Maybe Sendai-Akiu kokeshis will start to grow on me.
Wagatsuma Kokeshi was right next door and I found their kokeshis to be much more appealing. Three generations of Wagatsumas call this shop home: The 93-year old grandfather Mr. Wagatsuma Kichisuke, the 62-year old father Mr. Wagatsuma Satoshi, and the 36-year old son Mr. Wagatsuma Masato. None of them were at the shop when we visited, but fortunately they had a good selection of beautiful kokeshis for sale. The shop is also a wood-crafts shop, and Naoko got a large laquered wooden spoon along with a couple of kokeshis.
If you're in the Sendai area and you like kokeshis then you must go to Akiu Craft Park.

Sendai-Akiu kokeshis. They're easy to distinguish because of the heavy top and bottom stripes, as well the stylized hair that Naoko thinks looks like a piece of seaweed. Ha ha! 
More Sato kokeshis.
A basket of kokeshi cell phone straps.
Akiu kokeshi hankerchiefs. Naoko bought one of these.
Wagatsuma Kokeshi exterior.
Wagatsuma kokeshis. Really nice.

These little guys were by the elder Wagatsuma, and we got one. The faces have a definite attitude.
I liked these relatively large black and white kokeshis that were a good price too (2,500 yen). We had to pass on them though. 
The Sendai Tansu shop. Absolutely beautiful, but at the current exchange rate astronomical in price!
Ganbaro Tohoku sticker on a Coke machine in support of the post 3-11 disaster victims. We saw signs like this all over Sendai.

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