Saturday, October 27, 2012

All Japan Kokeshi Festival 2012 part 5 全国こけし祭り 2012 第5

The Kakizawa Kokeshi Shop
After we had enough of the first part of the kokeshi festival we decided to go drive around and see the beautiful area above Naruko Onsen. Of course the reason there's an onsen is that the town basically sits on top of a volcano. I don't think it's active, but in Japan who knows?
Naoko and I tend to like to replicate elements of previous trips, and like last year we once again stopped  at the Kakizawa 柿澤 family kokeshi shop on the way up the hill. It's a really nice shop, and the Naruko-style kokeshis of 72-year old Mr. Kakizawa Koretaka 柿澤是隆, his wife Mariko 眞里子, and son Yoshinobu 是伸 are absolutely exquisite. Oddly, like last year we went in, were offered tea and pickled vegetables, perused the kokeshis, made some purchases, and then when Naoko drew a slip of paper for the chance to win something she won another beautiful full-size Kakizawa kokeshi. That's exactly what happened last year too!
Naoko is chatting with the elder Mr. Kakizawa. The kokeshi down on the left next to the fan is the one that Naoko won. 
Inside the shop with all those beautiful kokeshis. That's my father-in-law in the middle sitting patiently -- he was a good sport as we dragged him throughout kokeshi-land.
Some standard Kakizawa kokeshis, and some Hina kokeshis as well.
Look Mom. I won a kokeshi!
After saying goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Kakizawa with our bag full of kokeshis we continued up the mountain and eventually arrived at a small, bright blue crater lake called Katanuma 潟沼. We stopped here last year of course, and it is so beautiful, and so interesting geologically that I will go to this lake every time we visit Naruko.
Katanuma, a small crater lake in the hills above Naruko Onsen. We had had really nice weather when we got to the lake.
It was worth going up to the lake just to see the steam vents like this.
Here's a close up of a steam vent covered with sulfer. It's not a cave -- just a small hole.
As I like to point out, kokeshi-themed signs and symbols can be found throughout kokeshi towns such as Naruko. The following pictures show this nicely.
On the way back down the hill we crossed the river and I spotted this road sign and bridge.

I'm pretty sure this represents a kokeshi head.
I also found this old, decaying phone booth with a giant kokeshi head on top. It would probably get more attention if people still used public phones.

Next blog: The Naruko Kokeshi Museum!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All Japan Kokeshi Festival 2012 part 4 全国こけし祭り 2012 第4

Ok, here are photos of the kokeshis on display at the Naruko Kokeshi Festival. Some of these were just on display for competition purposes, but most were for sale. What an amazing collection. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

All Japan Kokeshi Festival 2012 part 3 全国こけし祭り 2012 第3

We got up early the next day and headed directly to Naruko for breakfast at a small coffee shop we ate at the night before. Nice and easy and tasty. By the time we were finished and drove up the hill to the school where the festival was being held it was almost time for the doors to open. The excitement was palpable despite a light rain. Lining the path into the school were a number of booths selling various kokeshi items including books, magazines, chopsticks, and even "kokeshi goods" こけしグッズ, as well as a few food vendors. Of course we checked out the kokeshi items, as there were some great things for sale.

The Kokesh Jidai こけし時代 magazine booth from Kokeshika コケーシカ in Kamakura 鎌倉. These guys are doing absolutely splendid work. 
Another group -- Kochae -- doing really nice kokeshi-related books.
Booths selling kokeshi goods of various sorts.
Emily somehow ended up with this little kokeshi fan -- neat.
The food booths. One of them was run by fisherman from the coast whose business was wiped out in the tsunami last year.
Like last year there was a gate set up so even though it was just a school it felt like we were entering into a special venue. This led to the entryway where a large group was waiting patiently for doors to open. I swear, it felt like the scene in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate factory when the golden-ticket holders were about to enter the chocolate room!
Going in. Even those with poor eyesight would know that this was the right way.
The expectant mob waiting for the doors to be flung open.
This is where you could buy a program, get a poster, and purchase the commorative hand cloth 手ぬぐい.
Entering the venue was even better than Willie Wonka's factory, as we were being transported into kokeshi la-la land with little booths made to look like a traditional Japanese shopping street. Craftsmen from the various regions were sitting in the booths surrounded by their kokeshis, but at this point it was impossible to talk with them because of the wall of people trying to get the choice pieces. Of course they were all choice pieces, but the hardcore kokeshi enthusiasts knew what they wanted and didn't want to mess around. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, so I just wondered about and enjoyed the spectacle.

Here's a good view of how things looked when the event started. Really crowded. And check out all those wonderful kokeshis!
It doesn't look too crowded in this shot, but when on the floor trying to see the craftsmen it was almost impossible to squeeze through. Check out that lady in the center with the basket -- she's running!

Here's our friend and Tsugaru craftsman Ms. Honma Naoko 本間直子さん whom we saw up in Aomori this summer.
Here was one of the lines to make purchases.

Like last year they brought in this old foot-powered lathe for demonstrations.
Our girls could have cared less about the kokeshis, but when they heard that this guy making traditional Japanese animal-shaped candy was going to be there they couldn't wait to get inside.
Next blog -- views of the kokeshis themselves.