Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Visit to Mito Kokeshi 水戸こけし屋へ

Our next stop in Tendo was the kokeshi shop of Mr. Mito Hiroshi 水戸寛さん, a craftsman in the Zao kokeshi tradition 蔵王系こけし. We've been to his shop before and love his kokeshis, but our real purpose on this visit was to purchase a couple of handmade (and expensive!) shogi 将棋 sets for our good friend. Mr. Mito no longer makes shogi pieces, and in fact it's a dying craft in Japan, so these sets are extremely special. Just like his kokeshis, Mr. Mito's shogi pieces are of the highest quality.
The entrance into Mr. Mito's shop.
Giant shogi pieces by Mr. Mito.
Examining some different shogi sets.
We certainly couldn't go to a kokeshi shop and only buy shogi pieces, so we looked around at the various items for available. One of Mr. Mito's specialties is a hollow, bee-hive shaped kokeshi called ejiko えじこ which we've gotten in the past. He had a few of those filled with the micro-kokeshis that he's so good at. In the end, though, I got a large (10-inch) kokeshi that's just beautiful, and we bought some smaller ones as well. We couldn't stay too long, so we bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Mito, went back to our hotel in Yamagata City, and that was that.

Some ejiko kokeshis.

A variety of Mito kokeshis.
A box of Mito kokeshis -- awesome!
Mr. Mito's stubby kokeshis are delightful.
Saying farewell to Mr. Mito.
The next day we drove back to Tokyo, and so ended another kokeshi adventure to Yamagata. But we'll be back! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi John

    Thank you for tons of information on your fantastic kokeshi adventure blog. My wife and I will be visiting Japan in mid-april to mid-may and already has been strucked by kokeshi fever. We would love to go to Yamagata for 2-3 days, and based on your blog we have made some planning beforehand where to go. Can we please ask you some questions like addresses on certain craftsmen, Mr. Mito being one of them, and how difficult it will be visiting their shops by public means as we are going by train, bus and maybe taxi if that is the only way for the last mile or two? Please let me know on,

    Kind regards Thomas from Denmark