Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Kokeshi お正月のこけし

It's now December 31st, 2012, so this will be my final blog post for the year. I hope you have enjoyed reading about kokeshis as much as I've enjoyed writing about them. I look forward to continuing describing our Kokeshi Adventures througout 2013 and beyond.
Meanwhile, during a kokeshi adventure we took up north just last week (about which I'll report in some upcoming blogs), Naoko found this amazing 3-inch piece by master craftsman Mr. Hiraga Teruyuki 平賀輝幸さん of Sakunami Onsen 作並温泉. Mr. Hiraga is a real genius at creating completely new styles out of traditional kokeshis, and this one is just fantastic. If you know anything about New Year's celebrations in Japan then you'll immediately recognize the two symbols on this kokeshi's head. The white balls are mochi, which is glutonous rice pounded into a sticky mass and made into a 2-layered snowman shape, while the orange ball on top is a mikan, a kind of tangerine or manderin orange, which everyone in Japan eats during the winter. At New Year's these two items are typically placed as offerings in front of the kamidama, or "god-shelf," which most or all Japanese houses have. It's nothing complicated, and at this point perhaps more of a tradition than anything else, and yet the mochi and mikan are symbolic that the new year is beginning. Therefore, this is a perfect kokeshi to have out at this time of year! Oh yes, I should mention that the mochi and mikan on this little kokeshi are not real -- they are wood lathed and painted by Mr. Hiraga.  

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