Saturday, September 27, 2014

2014 National Kokeshi Festival part 6 2014 全国こけし祭り 6

The other special display area consisted of kokeshis that many craftsmen had submitted for the award competition, but that didn't win. These kokeshis were all fantastic, so it must have been extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision. Oh yes, these kokeshis were for sale, and from what I could tell almost all of them had been purchased early on the first day. Here are some photos of what I saw.
I believe this collection were the kokeshis that had been on display in the Shinto shrine during the opening ceremony.
Adding to the fun were a number of mascot characters strolling around the venue floor. I like these things, and of course everybody wanted to get in a picture with them.
And again, there were the human-sized paper-mache kokeshis too!

2014 National Kokeshi Festival part 5 2014 全国こけし祭り 5

After visiting the National Kokeshi Museum (see previous blog) we returned to the main festival venue. By that time things had calmed down somewhat and I was able to take pictures of everything.
There were a couple of these kokeshis wandering around the venue floor. We'll see more of them in an upcoming blog entry.
A view of the venue floor.
Another view.
Darumas and tops for sale.
These tenugui 手ぬぐい had the design of each Naruko kokeshi craftsmen currently making kokeshis. One fellow enthusiast purchased every one -- there were about 20 different kinds.
Some mini kokeshis by Mr. Mito for sale.
Various Yajiro kokeshis 弥次郎系こけし for sale.
Takobozu kokeshis たこ坊主こけし.
Naruko kokeshis.
Another part of the festival is getting to see the award-winning kokeshis for the year, and all of them were beautiful. They were displayed on the stage, so here's a sample of what we got to see. Sorry for not transliterating the names and awards, but actually the kokeshis speak for themselves!

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 National Kokeshi Festival part 4 2014 全国こけし祭り 4

After a couple of hours at the main Kokeshi Festival venue we visited a crater lake and then headed up to the Japan Kokeshi Kan 日本こけし館, a museum of traditional kokeshis with a small gift shop and a lathe for visiting kokeshi makers to demonstrate their craft. I've been here before and it's ok, though still worth a visit since it's a kokeshi museum. Even better was that, as with previous years, it was free to enter during the Kokeshi Festival, and there was also the big antique kokeshi auction. You can see some of what was available below.
The entry sign for the Japan Kokeshi Kan.
Free entry!
Kokeshi auction room.
The kokeshi auction floor. Those are all kokeshis, and there must have been a couple thousand in the room. There were also lots of kokeshi fans checking them out.
More auction kokeshis.
Even more kokeshis, all wrapped neatly in Saran Wrap.
A kokeshi maker was at work when we visited, though I didn't catch his name.
A view of the Japan Kokeshi Kan's giant kokeshi. I think there are at least six giant kokeshis, as well as some human-sized kokeshis in Naruko.
Another view with the Kokeshi Kan in the background.
The kokeshi monument.
After spending about an hour at the Japan Kokeshi Kan we headed further into the hills to see a bit of nature. We stopped at the new Naruko Gorge Rest House 鳴子峡レストハウス and besides the great view there was a shop with a surprising number of kokeshis and kokeshi-related goods!
The Naruko Gorge Rest House.
The kokeshi area -- very well stocked.
Kokeshi sake.
Kokeshi beer called "The Wind of Naruko" 鳴子の風.
As we drove back to the Kokeshi Matsuri we spotted an inn with a cool kokeshi-themed sign, and then saw a sign with a cat-kokeshi hybrid design that I liked. And of course we passed various kokeshi makers' shops. It's not an exaggeration to say that one cannot escape the influence of kokeshis in Naruko.
Kokeshi makers' shops like this one are everywhere in Naruko, though it helps to have a car if you want to pay some of them a visit.
So that was our little foray into the nearby mountains, and as I've shown kokeshis were everywhere. We then drove back to the main venue, which I'll discuss further in the next blog.