Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Tokyo Kokeshi Friends Meeting 4月東京こけし友の会

The last Sunday of April was the monthly Kokeshi Friends meeting in the Kanda section of Tokyo, so Naoko and I once again headed downtown to see our kokeshi comrades and learn more about our favorite wooden dolls. I'll let the pictures below tell the story of a great day!
Outside the Kanda train station 神田駅.
We had lunch at this Chinese restaurant before the meeting. NOT recommended.
We arrived about 30 minutes before the meeting started and received numbers 56 and 57 for the kokeshi raffle. The room was already packed with anxious kokeshi fans.
In fact it was so packed that we were in the last row of chairs at the very back of the room.
We heard a very nice lecture about these Togatta kokeshis 遠刈田系こけし, and how the craftsman's style evloved over the decades.
Some of the special kokeshis available either for bidding or a drawing. I'm not sure which was which, but for some of them there was a minimum price and whoever had the highest bid won. For the others, one's name was drawn from a box and that person could then purchase the kokeshi that he or she wanted.
Naoko wanted this nice Tsugaru kokeshi 津軽系こけし by Mr. Kon Akira 今晃さん from Aomori Prefecture, but by the time her name was drawn someone else had already gotten it. Too bad -- Mr. Kon's work is awesome and hard to get! 
More of the kokeshis up for bid.
There weren't any new kokeshis at this meeting, but there was a great variety of used kokeshis on the raffle table.
Another view of the raffle kokeshis.

Naoko and I liked this Nambu kokeshi 南部系こけし (right), but apparently someone else did too since it was gone by the time our numbers were called.

I got this little Abe kokeshi during my turn. 600 yen -- not bad.

Naoko got this beautiful Sakunami kokeshi 作並系こけし by the late Mr. Shoji Suzuki 鈴木昭二さん.
Waiting for the train home on the Yamanote Line. Kokeshi Adventure complete!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Kokeshis 新しいこけし

A couple of weeks ago Naoko, the girls and I took my parents who were visiting from America up to Naruko Onsen for a kokeshi adventure. We had a great two days and saw lots of kokeshis that I hope to talk about in some upcoming blogs. Meanwhile, I thought I'd start off by showing a couple of new kokeshis that we found at the Kakizawa family kokeshi shop on the mountain above the Naruko Onsen village. I think you will agree that these three little guys by Mr. Kakizawa Yoshinobu are really innovative and amazingly cute.
Here we see one of Yoshinobu's "child" kokeshis that's looking up rather than straight ahead. It's about 8 centimeters, and is absolutely beautiful with its cherry blossom pattern and dropping petals. The other two are obviously tiny and wonderfully crafted.
Here's a close up of the two small ones. Yes, those are acorn caps on their heads. According to Yoshinobu his son suggested this idea, and he crafted the kokeshis so they could wear these little hats. Naoko fell in love with them immediately.
Here's another view of the child kokeshi. This is genius. We have one more of this style that we got at another time.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Kokeshi 春のこけし

Seasonal kokeshis are rare, but we happen to have one by Naruko kokeshi 鳴子系こけし craftsman Mr. Kakizawa Yoshinobu 柿澤是伸さん. It's still very much a traditional kokeshi, but with a nice spring theme. Naoko recently put this one out for individual display, so I thought I'd share it. From what I've seen the young generation of kokeshi craftsmen tend to branch off in creative directions like this. A really beautiful piece!  

Yoshinobu is good with faces. Note the slight hint of blush on the cheeks. The type of wood is darker -- maybe maple, or pear?
Individually painted flowers as instead of stripes. The base is purple with a very pleasant gradation.
Also interesting is the back which has leafs instead of flowers. I can imagine that this piece took more time than usual to create.
Another shot of the head. The pattern on the head gives away that it's a Naruko kokeshi.