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.


  1. I recently contacted Kyoto Traditions regarding the Kokeshi Jidai magazine. We were very happy to be able to obtain all of the volumes except for the 1st magazine released. I wondered if you would be so kind to guide us in how we could obtain the missing volume. Thank you for sharing your adventures-Regards Maddy

  2. Maddy, thank you for your comment. I was surprised and pleased that you were able to get most of the back issues in the US. That's good to hear. Anyway, Naoko checked a few sources in Japan and found that the first issue of Kokeshi Jidai is completely sold out. I also checked the Kokeshika web site (the publisher of Kokeshi Jidai) and it also says it has sold out of issue number one. Sorry about that. If I hear that the issue is available somewhere I'll try to notify you via this blog.
    Best, John

  3. Thank you John and Naoko for taking the time to look for this issue and for your speedy reply. I look forward to hearing from you should you run across the issue, and most certainly look forward to reading more of your adventures. -Best Regards -Maddy