Monday, March 17, 2014

Reading Matter on Kokeshis こけしの読み物

I'm pretty sure that in America and other countries outside Japan finding new things to read about kokeshis is difficult, so here are a couple of items worth mentioning. The first is a small, 22-page magazine-like publication entitled Narukoke no Tabi なるこけの旅 (Naruko-Kokeshi Trip -- In Japanese "Naruko" and "Kokeshi" have been combined into a coined word: "Narukoke") produced by the Gomba Company ゴンバ社 back in October 2012. In this little handbook the artist recounted her impressions of the kokeshi world of Naruko Onsen 鳴子温泉 using cute drawings, a style of travel guide that is fairly popular in Japan and suits the kokeshi world well. Naoko said she saw Narukoke no Tabi back in 2012 when it came out, but since it looked so much like another similar pamphlet on Naruko that we already owned she passed on getting it. Still, I would recommend Narukoke no Tabi and can vouch that it captures the feeling of Naruko Onsen and a kokeshi adventure perfectly. Here are a couple of images from it.    

The entire publication is filled with this kind of art -- very nicely done. 
Another view. Believe it or not this drawings capture the Naruko experience perfectly.
The second publication I'd like to mention is the March 2014 edition (issue 638) of the Tokyo Kokeshi Friends Association's 東京こけし友の会 monthly journal Kokeshi Techo こけし手帖. I've mentioned this journal in past blogs and it's a great source for academic writing about kokeshi history, news about the association, and even occasional articles about kokeshi adventures by members. It's all in Japanese, but I think foreign enthusiasts can easily appreciate it. After all, since kokeshis are a visual medium non-Japanese readers would really only need to be able to recognize the kanji of the names of the different kokeshi families. This month's cover art is by Tsugaru craftsman Mr. Hasegawa Kenzo 長谷川健三さん, and it's quite handsome. How do you get this journal you might ask? Easy -- become a member of the Tokyo Kokeshi Friends Association, and they'll mail it right to your door.  

This image shows one of the articles about the early days of the Kijiyama kokeshi tradition 木地山系こけし. I am fascinated by the photo here -- the conditions in which kokeshis evolved were unbelievably remote and poor.

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