Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Yamagata Traditional Kokeshi Kan やまがた伝統こけし館

After finishing up with the Michinoku Kokeshi Festival at the Nana Beans Building in Yamagata City we decided to check out the Yamagata Traditional Kokeshi Museum やまがた伝統こけし館 (Yamagata Dento Kokeshi Kan) since it is located on the 5th floor of the Nana Beans Building. It's true that we were pretty worn out from the festival, and we had been inside the museum before, but how could any self-respecting kokeshi fan pass up the chance to visit a kokeshi museum? Besides, it was free admission and there was a display of kokeshi art that really piqued my curiosity.
Entrance to the Yamagata Traditional Kokeshi Museum. 
Lugging our heavy bag of kokeshis that we bought at the festival Naoko, the girls and I entered the museum for about 20 minutes. There was a lot to see including a large collection of traditional kokeshis (made up of four separate personal collections), plus wooden toys and other various exhibits. I think we were the only people there as everyone else was still in the festival hall. While there isn't a gift shop selling kokeshis, each Sunday between one and four o'clock you can try and paint your own kokeshi for 300 yen.   
A case filled with traditional wooden toys.
What I really wanted to see, though, was the kokeshi art exhibition which consisted of two types of art. The first type was paintings by various kokeshi craftsmen of their own kokeshi styles. In essence these paintings are like 2-D kokeshis and are a popular part of the kokeshi culture. Here are some images of what was on display.
The other type of art on display I actually found more intriguing, though I do not know who created it. Perhaps one artist? Or many artists? It was a series of woodblock prints, and the simplicity of the kokeshi design really lends itself to being portrayed in this art style. I would love to get some of these to display in my house! Please enjoy these images.
Oh yes, one other thing that I found interesting was the mounted collection of historic posters for the Michinoku Kokeshi Festival back to its beginning. Event posters are yet another aspect of the kokeshi culture that I am happy to see are being preserved.
So that was the Yamagata Traditional Kokeshi Museum, a highly recommended destination for all kokeshi enthusiasts who plan on being in the Yamagata area. Click here for information (in Japanese).

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