Sunday, July 28, 2013

Desert Kokeshi 10 砂漠のこけし10

It is true that the Arabian Desert is hot and dry. Temperatures routinely go up to around 45 or 46 C (111-113 F), with a wind that blows like a massive hair dryer set on high. I have been out here for two and a half months and it hasn't rained once, so you would think everything would look like the moon as in the first picture. However, that is not the case. There is surprising amount of plant life here, at least where I am living, and with that some insect life. Many of the plants are succulents (plants that store water), but some also appear to very hardy relatives of weeds you might see in temperate parts of the US or Japan. I brought the kokeshi out with me this morning as I explored the strange flora of this amazing environment.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Desert Kokeshi 9 砂漠のこけし9

The Souk Waqif in downtown Doha has many alley ways and mysterious back areas. When you go to this place you feel like you're really in the Middle East, so it's a highly recommended destination for people and kokeshis alike! The kokeshi is in one of the photos. Can you find it?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Playing with Kokeshis こけしの遊び

I have debated in the past whether or not kokeshis are really dolls. After all, we kokeshi enthusiasts consider them to be folk art objects of significant value and worthy of serious study. They are to be displayed, not touched and dressed up like some common Barbie. A couple of weeks ago Naoko sent me a photo of our younger daughter Emily playing with our large kokeshis, and as far as she is concerned, yes, they are dolls that should be dressed up in clothes. Ah, kids.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Desert Kokeshi 8 砂漠のこけし8

I returned to Souq Waqif two days later and went to dinner at a Syrian restaurant, which was absolutely outstanding. We sat on the roof and had a great view of part of the city. Because it never rains in Qatar during the summer, and there aren't any mosquitoes or other bugs, you can have an outdoor restaurant like this. Much different from Japan. Of course I brought the kokeshi along, which is another first in the kokeshi world (I think).
The Syrian restaurant's rooftop area. Note the city in the background.
Hummus and Middle Eastern bread. Delicious.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Desert Kokeshi 7 砂漠のこけし7

Continuing the desert kokeshi adventure, we made our way downtown to one of Doha's most famous landmarks, Souq Waqif, which is basically a traditional Arabian shopping center. It's absolutely fantastic, and I am certain that my kokeshi is the first to ever set foot in that place. Well, maybe not set "foot" since kokeshis lack feet, but you probably knew what I meant. Here are some views, starting with a beautiful mosque along the way.

Friday, July 5, 2013

January Friends of Kokeshis Meeting 1月のこけし友の会

Back in January Naoko and attended the Tokyo Kokeshi Friends Association 東京こけし友の会meeting, the biggest gathering of the year for the Tokyo folks. As I recall it was a full house, with well over 100 people in attendance. There were also a couple of kokeshi craftsmen, a news crew from Aomori NHK, and even a kokeshi book author. All the kokehis in the numbered raffle were new, which was a definite treat for those who don't get up to Tohoku that often. Fun was had by all. For the sake of expediency I'll simply post the photos without captions. Enjoy!

Desert Kokeshi 6 砂漠のこけし6

My friend and I stopped for some gas on the way into Doha, and right next door to the gas station was a McDonald's. I didn't go in to look at the menu, but I'm pretty sure it's the same as Tokyo, or Texas, or anywhere else. But without the bacon of course.

Desert Kokeshi 5 砂漠のこけし5

Last week I brought my Togatta kokeshi to the city of Doha, the capital of Qatar, a small, very rich country on the Arabian Gulf. I'll share those pictures over the next few days. Meanwhile, here's another shot of the kokeshi out in the desert as the trip began.
I just learned recently that this kokeshi's maker, Mr. Agatsuma Nobuo 我妻信雄さん, passed away on 9 June at the age of 80. He wouldn't have known that his creation is now living out in the Arabian Desert, but if he had I wonder what he would have thought?