Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kokeshi Booms こけしブーム

Kokeshi Friends journal.
Dear readers, I am pleased to announce that there has probably been no better time to be a kokeshi enthusiast, at least in recent decades. According to some of our fellow collectors -- those with much more experience under their belts than Naoko or me -- the kokeshi world is in the midst of its third boom 第三次ブーム in popularity. As you may have noticed in this blog a number of books and magazines on kokeshis have come out in the last couple of years, there have been good deal of kokeshi events in Tokyo, and the variety of kokeshi goods こけしグーズ (items with kokeshi themes or graphics) for sale is truly striking. While I admittedly never really paid attention to the kokeshi world before 2010, I'm pretty sure kokeshis were not as visible as they are today.
The Tokyo Friends of Kokeshi Association covered this very topic of the 3rd Kokeshi Boom in the November 2012 edition of its monthly journal こけし手帖, mentioning that the boom was sparked in part by the Kokeshi Book which came out in April 2010. Rather serendipitously Naoko and I had just rediscovered kokeshis at the end of 2009, so its publication book was auspicious to say the least (I discussed that beautiful and highly recommended book in my 9 June 2011 blog). According to the article the Kokeshi Book's presentation of kokeshis as cute little art objects with distinct personalities allowed people to appreciate them in an entirely new way. The article also mentioned the significance of the superb Kokeshi Jidai こけし時代 magazine, the innovative work of the great folks up at the Tsugaru Kokeshi Kan (especially their use of the Internet where they do a daily blog and announce numerous events), and the large numbers of females in their 30s who appreciate kokeshis in an entirely different way than previous generations of enthusiasts. As result we are indeed in the midst of kokeshi boom, which is great for collectors and craftsmen alike.
The article on the 3rd Kokeshi Boom.
All of this begs the question: If we're now in the 3rd Kokeshi Boom, when were the 1st and 2nd booms? According to the article the first boom occurred in the pre-WWII period and lasted for about ten years, ending around 1940 as Japan plunged itself further into war. Interestingly, this initial boom also started with a book that popularized kokeshis as a folk art distinct from other wooden toys.
The 2nd Kokeshi Boom started in the 1950s and went on for more than two decades. The Tokyo Friends of Kokeshi Association started during the 2nd boom, and it was also during this time that  many books based on serious research about the tradition were published.
So, if you've been wondering when it might be a good time to come to Japan and visit some kokeshi makers, why not right now during the 3rd Kokeshi Boom?    

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