Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Kokeshi Trip 12 July 夏のこけし冒険7月12日

Naoko found this kokeshi display in the station.
On 11 July we bid farewell to beautiful Aomori Prefecture and headed south to our final destination: Yamagata City 山形市! We arrived there in late afternoon, drove around in circles and got lost for a bit, found a nice river for the girls to play in, and then headed to our hotel right next to the train station. We went out for yakiniku 焼肉 (Korean bar-b-q) for dinner, which was outstanding, and then walked around the train station area. In Japan the stations and their environs are safe, like the rest of the country. This is a vast difference from America, where train stations tend to be some of the worst parts of the city, or at least it was like that when I was a kid. Maybe things have changed...
That night, as we were walking through the upper concourse of the Yamagata station we came across a kokeshi display showing a selection of Yamagata-type 山形系 and Zao-Takayu-type 蔵王高湯系 kokeshis. Yes, we were once again in a kokeshi hot spot.
Inside the magnificent Yamagata station. The vendor was selling small boxes of perfect Yamagata cherries for 2,000 yen, or about $25.
The next morning we got up early and headed back to the station to find a shop called Shobido 尚美堂 that Naoko had read about. Shobido is located on the station's first floor, and after working our way through various food-souvenir stands we finally found the shop. Shobido is really just a souvenir shop that pretty much sells locally made crafts, and of course there were traditional kokeshis to be had. See the photos below for details.
Where is Shobido?
Shobido at last. Yes, those are modern kokeshis from Gunma on the back wall. Not exactly a Yamagata craft.
This was the extent of the kokeshis at Shobido. Fortunately, the pieces for sale were high quality and fairly priced. We immediately recognized ones by craftsmen whom we'd visited in the area.
Kokeshis from Akita, Miyagi, and Yamagata.
Zao and Yamagata kokeshis. We got one of the yellow ones from Yamadera way in the back. We met the maker, Mr. Ishiyama Kazuo last year. If you'd like to read about that adventure here's the link:
This really wasn't much of a kokeshi adventure, but it was a good way to start the day. It would also be a perfect place to pick up some traditional kokeshis if one wasn't able to make it to a craftsman's workshop.
However, as we'll see in an upcoming blog we did do a bit more kokeshi hunting before heading back to Tokyo.
Shobido had this nice little display.

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