Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Naruko Kokeshi Event in Sugamo 2014 鳴子こけしin巣鴨2014

I recently wrote about the Naruko Kokeshi Festival in Yokohama that took place back in late November 2014. Two weeks prior to that Naoko visited and photographed the Traditional Kokeshi Making Demonstration 伝統こけし製作実演 in the Sugamo 巣鴨 section of Tokyo, which was similar to what we saw in Yokohama since it focused exclusively on Naruko kokeshis 鳴子系こけし. It went from 14-18 November, so there were plenty of chances to join the fun. As I think about it last year was definitely a good year for kokeshi adventures in the Kanto Plain!
A photo of the event poster.
For those who aren't aware driving in Tokyo, while possible, is impractical for attending this kind of event since there simply isn't any parking available. So Naoko took a series of trains and subways and soon emerged in Sugamo which is a really fun, pedestrian-only shopping area. While Sugamo has the reputation of being the Harajuku for middle-aged folks, I highly recommend it for anyone of any age visiting Tokyo.
Entry into the Sugamo subway station.
It was the sixth time for the Traditional Kokeshi Making Demonstration to be held in Sugamo at Togenukijizoson とげぬき地蔵尊, a hall attached to the famous Kogan-ji 高岩寺 Buddhist temple. While it might seem odd to think of a kokeshi demonstration being held at a Buddhist temple, the priest whose family owns and runs the temple is a big kokeshi fan who is happy to support the kokeshi world. This year six kokeshi makers came down from Naruko to participate, and based on the photos we can see this event was a good one for kokeshi enthusiasts of all levels, from neophytes just learning about the craft to seasoned pros searching for new pieces to add to their collections.     
A dark photo, yes, but the large kokeshi lanterns marking the exhibition hall at Tokenukijizo Temple on the main shopping street are nice and bright and welcome in passersby.
Inside Togenukijizoson where there were lots of kokeshis and lots of guests.
2-D kokeshi art, presumably by the six craftsmen participating in the show.
Kokeshi lanterns added a festive air.
A traditional foot-powered lathe on display.
Cases filled with examples of kokeshis. These might be the same displays used at the Yokohama event later in the month.
I've shown the exhibits, but I'm pretty sure the biggest draw for most people was to see and purchase new kokeshis. As we can see in the images below there were plenty of people when Naoko was there, so I will conclude that this was a great success for the craftsmen.   
These exhibitions are so interesting, and I think everyone enjoys seeing so many kokeshis available in one place. When traveling to a kokeshi town like Naruko of course you get to see them like this, but for Tokyo residents these shows are a rare opportunity to see a wonderful part of the Tohoku culture and meet the people keeping that culture alive.
A very nice t-shirt that was for sale.
Kokeshi cartoon art on display.
Tenugui 手ぬぐい with every kind of Naruko kokeshi on them. I've heard that some enthusiasts buy an entire set which would be about 25 different pieces. 
More tenugui and other kokeshi goods.
So as you can see this was a top-notch kokeshi event right in the heart of Tokyo. If I find out that it's taking place in 2015 I'll be sure to mention it in an upcoming blog entry. For foreign kokeshi enthusiasts visiting Tokyo in November this is an annual event that you will want to try and attend.

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