Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hawaii Kokeshi Adventure 2 ハワイのこけし冒険2

The heart of our recent Christmas trip was a visit to the Big Island (Hawaii) where we spent a couple of days at the spectacular Volcanoes National Park -- more on that in upcoming blog entries. On the way up the mountain from Hilo we stopped by the home of Randy Fonseca, a ukulele craftsman whose business is called Rock Fire Ukulele. What a perfect name for a workshop located in a town called Volcano! We had a really nice time getting to know the Fonsecas, but what surprised me was how similar the worlds of ukulele and kokeshi craftsmanship are. That is to say, like kokeshi makers ukulele craftsmen choose their own wood and then work in solitary conditions where they shape and build the entire instrument through to completion. In Mr. Fonseca's case, he even makes many of his own tools. I am certain that the many kokeshi craftsmen whom we've met over the years would feel perfectly at home in Mr. Fonseca's workshop.
Mr. Fonseca's ukulele workshop undergoing expansion. This could just as easily have been a kokeshi workshop.
A Rock Fire ukulele being born.
Mr. Fonseca demonstrating how the koa wood is shaped.
Our kokeshi joined the tour.

The kokeshi posing with some of Mr. Fonseca's ukuleles in various stages of completion.
Lena and Emily testing out some Rock Fire ukuleles.
This was a fun trip and the Fonsecas welcomed us right in. When I pulled out the kokeshi for some photos Mr. Fonseca understood it immediately, having spent some time in Japan as a young man. In the big scheme of things I think there might be a natural connection between kokeshis and ukuleles.

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