|The front door into the Kiboko Workshop.|
As we entered Mr. Niiyama welcomed us and prepared some tea, a kokeshi shop tradition that I really like. Of course the workshop was also the showroom, if we could call it that, and we were greeted by a couple of shelves of the Niiyama's beautiful kokeshis as soon as we entered. Right next to those was their personal kokeshi collection, and I'm always happy to see when kokeshi makers have an interest in the work of other craftsmen.
|The new kokeshis for sale. Lots of variety.|
|A close up. The Niiyama's craftsmanship is superb as you can see.|
|Their personal kokeshi collection.|
|Another view of those kokeshis, which could use a good dusting. Naoko and I liked that rare Nambu kokeshi 南部系こけし, the big white one behind the kokeshi with the rings on its arms.|
Naoko and Mr. Niiyama chatted about various things for a while as I took photos of kokeshis and tried to keep an eye on the girls who were still rock climbing and playing in the snow and ice outside. Eventually the girls came in to warm up and Mr. Niiyama had them try some sawdust. What I mean by "try" is that he had them eat some sawdust which the girls did reluctantly. I didn't recall why he had them taste some of the sawdust, but was fascinated by the whole thing. Naoko told me later that he was explaining to the kids that the wood he was using was the same as that used for disposable chopsticks. I must say that Mr. Niiyama is the first kokeshi maker we've met who has offered sawdust for tasting. After that Mr. Niiyama gave a demonstration on the lathe, whipping out a fully completed top in about 2-3 minutes. It was amazing. He took a chunk of raw wood, lathed it down into a top shape, gave it some paint, and handed it to Emily in almost no time at all.
|Sawdust? No thanks.|
|The girls are trying some special edible sawdust.|
|Here's Naoko documenting Mr. Niiyama at work on his lathe. He's making a top.|
|And voila! A top.|
|Our new kokeshis. I especially like the one with the squarish head in the center by Mrs. Niiyama.|
|Naoko and Mr. Niiyama upon departing.|