|Here's Mr. Ishikawa's signature. It also says "75 years," which is how old he was when he made this. The three kanji on the right say Inawashiro 猪苗代, the village in Fukushima where Mr. Ishikawa is from.|
Sunday, February 24, 2013
I'll get back to our big Miyagi trip in an upcoming blog, but I had to mention that right now it's Hina (雛祭りGirl's Festival) time in Japan and traditional kokeshi makers are continuing to make inroads in that area. Last year at this same time I showed a few that we had gotten, and in my opinion they're a really nice alternative to the traditional Hina dolls that are regular dolls with clothing and hair. Well, the other day I came home and Naoko had these two beauties below on display in the living room, so our Hina kokeshi collection is growing! These are Takobozu たこ坊主 kokeshis, a sub-category of Tsuchiyi-style kokeshis 土湯系こけし from Fukushima Prefecture. Takobozus are easy to identify since they always have red around their large, wide-open eyes, suggesting that the kokeshis are either very tired or overworked. They also typically have a large flower pattern on them in liue of stripes. As you can see the craftsman Mr. Ishikawa Isao 石川功さん has retained all of the Takobozu motifs on these Hinas, including the Tsuchiyu bullseye pattern on the top of the head of one on the right.
By the way, if you're up in Aomori Precture between now and 17 March then try to stop by the Tsugaru Kokeshi Kan 津軽こけし館 in Kuroishi City where a Hina Kokeshi exhibition is currently on-going. Here's a close-up of the poster, and you can get more info at the Tsugaru Kokeshi Kan's web site (in Japanese).
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
At this point we were still in the Akiu Craft Park, and after buying my one and only Akiu kokeshi I rounded up the girls who were still playing in the snow and we went to Mr. Suzuki Akira's 鈴木明さん kokeshi shop right across the street. We had been here before and really loved Mr. Suzuki's kokeshis and his shop, so we went in again to see what was new. I'll let you see for yourself with the pictures below, but I have to explain that he is apparently the last person who makes this style of Sakunami kokeshis 作並系こけし, a very old design that he learned from his father. Interestingly, Mr. Suzuki has a deshi 弟子 (apprentice) who for the next few years will be learning how to make this traditional style of kokeshi. That was really good news! Unfortunately she wouldn't let me take her picture, but we will undoubtedly see her making kokeshis with her own lathe sometime in the near future.
Of course we bought a few pieces, including a very nice traditional Sakunami design, and then said to goodbye to Mr. Suzuki. We hopped in the car and it was off to the final phase of our great December kokeshi adventure -- Yajiro!
|These are little tiny guys.|
|So are these.|
|An original Suzuki design.|
|This, believe it or not, is by Naoko and Emily.|
|The interior of the shop.|
|Mr. Suzuki coated and is drying the kokeshi that Lena designed.|
|Naoko and a giant Suzuki kokeshi lantern.|
|And finally, a few of Mr. Suzuki's Christmas kokeshis. Did Naoko get one of these?|