Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 National Kokeshi Festival part 3 2014 全国こけし祭り 3

Each year the National Kokeshi Festival in Naruko is held in the town's grade-school auditorium. It's a good location for many reasons, but significantly because the playing field is used as a large parking lot. We had arrived pretty early and readily found a spot, but by the time we returned from the kokeshi shrine (see previous post) it was already packed with cars! Furthermore, the line to get inside was the biggest that I've ever seen, and Naoko heard that there were even a few people who had been camping out in line for three days to ensure that they got in first. Yes, kokeshis are definitely popular these days.
The line in front of us.
The line in back of us. Sheesh.
The doors finally opened everyone patiently worked their way inside the school. As always we had to go through a temporary gate that turned the entrance area into something special.
The 60th anniversary commemorative tenugui 手拭 (hand cloth).
The lobby area where one could by a program, posters, post cards, tenugui, and t-shirts which were of course popular with the few Americans in the crowd.
Ah, here are the t-shirts! Naoko bought one for me.
These large hanging kokeshis, reminiscent of the hanging decorations used in the in Sendai Tanabata Festival, greeted everyone as they entered the main event area.
The organized mob of kokeshi lovers. I think everyone was having a great time.
One of the guest kokeshi craftsmen was Mr. Susumago Morizo 煤孫森造さん from Hanamaki 花巻 in Iwate Prefecture 岩手県.
Here's Naoko catching up with Mr. Susumago whom we visited at his workshop earlier in the year.
One of our favorite kokeshi makers Mr. Hiraga Teruyuki 平賀輝幸さん from  Sakunami Onsen 作並温泉.  His cute kokeshis were obviously very popular with the attendees.
Here's Mr. Abe Shin'ya 阿部進矢さん, whom we just visited at Atsumi Onsen 温海温泉 in Yamagata Prefecture 山形県. His work is incredibly popular and he reportedly sold all of his kokeshis in about 25 minutes. I believe that, as later on I saw a TV news story and one lady had probably 15-20 of his pieces in her shopping basket. No wonder he sold out so quickly. 
After Mr. Abe sold out his kokeshis he had plenty of time to chat with his fans.
Lots of kokeshis for sale.
Testament to the current popularity of kokeshis were the many TV news crews and photographers roaming around the hall.
Mr. Takahashi Yuji 高橋雄司さん from Akita Prefecture 秋田 was also one of the guest kokeshi makers.
A selection of Mr. Takahashi's kokeshis.
It really was packed the first day.
Mr. Kakizaki Fumio 柿崎文雄さん from Fukushima Prefecture 福島県. He makes the coveted Tako-bozu たこ坊主style of Tsuchiyu kokeshis 土湯系こけし.
Waiting in line to make a purchase.
This is Mr. Suzuki Sei'ichi 鈴木征一さん from Yamagata. He makes the rare Hijiori kokeshis 肘折系こけし.
There was lots to see and do besides visiting the kokeshi makers, and there were some also kokeshi-related items to buy.
Truly beautiful kokeshi art on linen for sale. We got one of these a few years ago.
Kokeshi art on cotton cloth (tenugui). There were eighteen different types available.
Kokeshis done by local school kids.
The make-your-own kokeshi painting area.
This is the event poster from the 8th National Kokeshi Festival, which I think I showed in my blog a couple years ago. Wonderful graphic design, and I would love to get a reproduction of this. It says on the poster that the festival used to be held on 1 October instead of early September. I wonder why the date was pushed back by a month?
This year there was a lecture area, and seated is kokeshi scholar Mr. Takahashi Goro 高橋五郎さん who was going to be speaking later in the day. Unfortunately we weren't able to listen to his or any of the other lectures.
Beyond all of this excitement, there were also hundreds of award-winning kokeshis on display for everyone to view and take pictures of. I'll show some more of them in an upcoming blog, but here's a small sample of what we saw
So that was the first couple of hours of the festival's kokeshi viewing and purchasing venue. At this point we decided to take our friends who had joined us to see a bit more of the Naruko area, including the Japan Kokeshi Museum. I'll show that visit and more of the festival in the next few blogs. 

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