Saturday, July 18, 2015

Kokeshi Festival in Koenji 高円寺のこけし祭り

At the beginning of last November Naoko, the girls and I hopped on the train and headed to downtown Tokyo for the Koenji Fes 2014 高円寺フェス2014. Naturally this was a kokeshi adventure, and we were looking for the "My First Kokeshi" event that was somewhere in the maze that is the Koenji section of Tokyo.
Koenji's shopping street. It was very lively and packed with people the day we went there.
Kokenji Fes 2014 program.
Information about the "My First Kokeshi" event in the program.
There was no single building where the Koenji Fes was taking place, so we really had to hunt for the kokeshi event. We ended up walking through the shopping street, into a residential neighborhood, and then finally found a sign for the it in front of a neighborhood community center. This was it! The "My First Kokeshi" event was on the second floor, so we headed up the stairs and entered in to the main room and it was like Ikebukuro Station at rush hour. It was clearly a big hit though it was difficult to really look at the kokeshis and get to know them properly because of all the people. Oh well.
The main room. It doesn't look too packed in this picture, but believe me it felt like it was wall-to-wall people. 
If I had to analyze what I saw available the emphasis was definitely on cute new kokeshis, which are very popular among young female collectors who have discovered kokeshis in the last couple of years. Overall there was lots to see and buy, and an added bonus is that it was only 90 minutes from home in downtown Tokyo rather than six hours away by car in far-off Tohoku. Well, you can see for yourself what the "My First Kokeshi" event looked like in the photos below, plus what we added to our collection. Enjoy!
A table full of cute kokeshis which dominated the event.
Lots of Tsugaru kokeshis 津軽系こけし by Mr. Abo Kanemitsu 阿防金光さん.
Tsuchiyu kokeshis 土湯系こけし.
Tiny Zao kokeshis 蔵王系こけし by Mr. Mito Hiroshi 水戸寛さん.
Another view of the main room and the crowds of kokeshi fans.
The Nihon Kokeshi Kan's 日本こけし館 table.
Kokeshis and hand cloths 手縫い with kokeshi patterns from Naruko Onsen.
The 500 yen box!
Lots of Tsugaru kokeshis. 
Cute kokeshi items.
Another display.
Antique kokeshis for sale.
More antiques.
It wouldn't be a true kokeshi event if the visitors didn't have the chance to make their own kokeshi, and sure enough there was a "work shop" sponsored by the Tsugaru Kokeshi Kan. We poked our heads into the room and it was also packed with guests.
The entry into the kokeshi-making workshop.
Make a fat or thin kokeshi for 1,200 yen!
In the end we came home with four new kokeshis for our collection.
Naoko got this fantastic little Owani 大鰐 (Tsugaru) kokeshi by Mr. Hasegawa Masashi 長谷川優志さん. It's only about two inches high.
We also purchased this beautiful work of art by Mr. Matsutane Shinkichi 松谷伸吉さん. Interestingly, Mr. Matsutane is a Naruko craftsman who lives in Shimane Prefecture 島根県, well away from the kokeshi homeland of Tohoku. His ability with the brush is truly exquisite.
We managed to find a used Akiyu 秋保 (Togatta) kokeshi. Although they are technically Togatta kokeshis 遠刈田系こけし Akiyus are quite unique and easy to identify. On the other hand the number of craftsmen who make them seems to be dwindling.
Another used Akiyu that we added to our collection. 
The "hair" on the back is the shape of the kanji 乙 (otsu). It's a unique mark found only on Akiyu kokeshis. 

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