Last 19-22 December Naoko, the girls and I went on an early winter kokeshi adventure to Sakunami Onsen 作並温泉, Akiu Onsen 秋保温泉, and Sendai City 仙台市, about a five-hour drive via the Tohoku Expressway from our home in western Tokyo. I'll explain the trip over the next couple of blogs, but I thought I'd start with our visit to downtown Sendai's Kamei Art Museum カメイ美術館 which has a wing devoted to kokeshis. What makes this particular collection of interest is that while we were visiting there was a collection of brand new representative kokeshis from every kokeshi maker in Japan. The reason for this is that Kamei has produced a handbook called the Traditional Kokeshi Artist File 伝統こけし最新工人緑 which contains photos and background information on all of Japan's traditional kokeshi makers. The book also includes pictures of two of everyone's kokeshis, which are the ones that were on display in the Kamei museum. A pretty good deal for both the museum and craftsmen, and I'll discuss this beautiful, though expensive (2,500 yen) little book in a future blog. Even though it is 100% in Japanese, I highly, highly recommend this book for all traditional kokeshi enthusiasts.
|Should we go right? Or left? Left!|
Anyway, Naoko wanted to go the museum to get the newest edition of the handbook that had just come out in late November, so our timing was perfect. The book isn't all that easy to get a hold of even in Japan, so going right to the source ensured that we would get a copy. Fortunately part of new kokeshi collection was on display, and I took a few pictures of them which are posted below. According to the Kamei web site, we only saw the first display, which was followed by two more shows in the months after we left. That's a lot of kokeshis! For more information on the Kamei Art Museum and its kokeshi projects here's a link to the web site (Japanese): http://www.kameimuseum.or.jp/
|Kokeshis by our friends the Satos from Iwaki, Fukushima.|
While we were definitely in a museum (which has an amazing butterfly collection, as well as a paintings on a different floor), the kokeshi wing was also something of a research room that contained a very nice library of kokeshi books and a table for reading. There was also a little gift shop with kokeshi goods (mostly from Kokeshika, a kokeshi/matryoshika shop in Kamakura) and small selection of books. We were happy to find a rather rare, scholarly kokeshi book from 1980 on the Sendai kokeshi tradition -- Naoko's been very pleased with it. By the way, the museum staff was extremely pleasant and helpful. By all means check out Kamei the next time you're in Sendai.
|The pinkish room in the back is the kokeshi wing. You can see Naoko conducting some kokeshi research at the reading table.|