Monday, November 24, 2008

Kokeshi doll artist - Maruyama Hougetsu

Most of Japanese Sousaku Kokeshi dolls are very artistic.

I've already introduced about them before.

But Maruyama Hougetsu who will be introduced today is creating very cute and reasonable Sousaku Kokeshi dolls.

His dolls are always lovely and cute.

Sometime, other Sousaku Kokeshi dolls are too artistic to display in our house.

Hougatsu's Kokeshi dolls are more like ZAKKA than doll which will be displayed.

This set of Kokeshi dolls represent four season.

It looks like they are really close friends.

He creates many other lovely Kokeshi doll now.

I will add some pictures of those dolls.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kokeshi doll artist - Okamoto Usaburo

Today, I would like to write about the great Sousaku Kokeshi aritst, Okamoto Usaburo.

He is a one of a great Sousaku (creative) Kokeshi doll artists nowadays.

He has his own factory called Usaburo Kokeshi factory in Gunma Prefecture.

You can visit there and see how Kokeshi dolls are created. You can also try to paint plane Kokeshi doll.

Okamoto Usaburo was born in 1917.

When he was young he is not Kokeshi Doll Artist but created Metal industrial arts.

He started making Kokeshi Doll from 1950.
He didn’t persist in old method and he created new technique to making Kokeshi Doll like engraving or burning by Nichrome wire to design.

He has so many prizes as Kokeshi doll artist.

He won the many prizes include award of the Minister of International Trade and Industry (’78,’84,’85) and the award of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (’79,’82).

His Kokeshi dolls are always warm even bravely Samurai Kokeshi doll.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Asakusa - Can't miss when you come to Japan

First spot to write in Bulari must be about Asakusa, mustn’t it?

At any rate, you can’t say you came to Japan and Tokyo if you didn’t go to Asakusa.
After all, Asakusa = *Shitamachi
*Shitamachi is a traditional working-class neighborhood, but exactly the same. So I will use the word “Shitamachi”.
Asakusa deserves to be called ‘The King of Shitamachi’.

Thirty millions of tourists visit Asakusa per one year!!
That is, eighty thousands of tourists visit Asakusa per only one day!!

‘The King of sightseeing spot’

might be much better for Asakusa.

Asakusa may not fashionable town at any rate.
You may not be able to enjoy shopping in Asakusa.

However, the atmosphere of Asakusa is not old, outdated or hickish.
The word ‘outdated’ turned the word ‘nostalgic’.
The word ‘hickish’ turned the word ‘*Iki’
*Iki means flair. But there is a subtle difference in nuance so I will use Iki

The place where always has surprises and discoveries is Asakusa.
Asakusa is the place where we can feel the power of *Edokko.
*Edokko means a person born and brought up in Tokyo. Tokyoite.

Miscellaneous and chaos.
But there is a firm pillar of their life.

There is “The Heart of Entertaining”.

I want you to go Nakamise shopping street if you visit Asakusa.

And I want you to talk to salesmen or saleswomen.
I am sure you will understand what I am saying in Bulari.

They are doing their business by their style without flattering the guest.

There are many events in Asakusa though a year.
But you can enjoy visiting even if there is no event when you visit.
Always is good time to visit Asakusa.
Asakusa is not big town so it is also nice to Bulari with carefree mind.

There are so many nice foods and snacks too.
I suggest that you shouldn’t eat meals before visiting Asakusa.

Asakusa is the place where you can meet 東京(TOUKYOU) not Tokyo.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kokeshi Doll Column No.5

The Secret Birth Story of Kokeshi Dolls (Part 1)

When, where and how did Kokeshi Dolls are born?

The answers are still cloaked in the mystery.
As a result, there are many talks about these mysteries.
Followings are some examples of these mysteries…

At first, about the time when Kokeshi Dolls are born.
It is saying that Kokeshi dolls were born in late EDO period (1603-1867).

Next, about the birth place of Kokeshi Dolls. There are 2 major theories.
“Remaining Theory” – There are many kinds of wooden dolls in Japan but only Kokeshi Dolls are remaining.
“Native Theory” – These wooden dolls were born only in Tohoku area originally.

At last, the reason why people make Kokeshi Dolls. There are also 2 major theories.
“Originated in Toy” – The theory that Kokeshi dolls were made as toys for children and girls.
“Originated in Belief” – The theory that Kokeshi dolls were made as objects for people’s belief.

In any case, there are so mysteries about birth stories of Kokeshi Dolls.

It is sure that the model of Kokeshi Doll, ‘Kiboko’ was existed.
Kiboko was very useful to people lived in Tohoku area.

Actually we are not sure when Kiboko was born either.
Some people say 300 years ago, some people say 1,000 years ago.
The quality of Kiboko was completely different from Kokeshi.
It was just shaved wood that shaped was like human.
This is my personal opinion but Kiboko has only meaning as a toy.

Kokeshi Dolls were created from Kiboko gained the techniques of using lathe.
In NARUKO, it is said that these techniques were brought by HAKONE “Kijishi”.
This happened in about middle of EDO period (1830-1840).
Kijishi are the person who made many kinds of products from wood.
They wandered in Japan to search materials, woods.

Kijishi in Tohoku!!This was the turning point of the birth of Kokeshi Dolls.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kokeshi doll ; The model of world famous doll.

Today, I would like to introduce traditional Kokeshi doll artist, Sato Koichi.

He was born in 1936 and studied under HAMAZU HEISABURO from 1957 to 1977.

After that he devoted himself to create Kokeshi Dolls until now.

He is very good at to creating parent or grandparent Kokeshi doll.

This Kokeshi Doll is called ‘Komochi Kokeshi’. ‘Komochi’ means parent in Japanese.
This Kokeshi Doll is called ‘Magomochi Kokeshi’. ‘Magomochi’ means grandparent in Japanese.
Do you remind certain world famous doll when you see these dolls?
Some of you might know but these Kokeshi doll are model of Russian traditional doll called "Matryoshka doll".
We are very very pround of this fact but Matryoshka doll is much more famous than Kokeshi in the world doll nowadays.
We have to do something to let Kokeshi doll be famous like Matryoshka doll or Teddy Bear!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kokeshi_column Vol.4

Kokeshi Dolls are mainly divided 2 major categories, Dento (traditional) and Sousaku (Creative).

What are the differences?“Dento Kokeshi Dolls” were made, conforming to traditional method.“Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls” were made from free imagination or idea of the artists.

Today, I would like to talk about Sousaku (Creative) Kokeshi Dolls.

When I introduce Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls, most of Japanese people (maybe non Japanese) would say,

“Is this also Kokeshi Dolls?”

Surely, it is far from the images of Kokeshi Dolls.One of main features of Kokeshi dolls is lack of arms and feet.But some of Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls has arms or feet.We may be able to say that Sousaku Kokeshi Doll is wooden dolls rather than Kokeshi Dolls.

Dento Kokeshi Dolls are originally made as toys for children.Dento Kokeshi Dolls retains the traces of that time.

On the other side, Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls.Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls were not made as a toys for children.They were made for interior ornaments.Nowdays, Dento Kokeshi Dolls are also interior ornament.

There are no strict rules or anything to create Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls.
“I love Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls but I don’t like Dento Kokeshi Dolls so much…!

There are so many people would say like this.Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls are more popular in abroad.On the other hand, there are some Kokeshi collectors who are saying…

“SOUSAKU Kokeshi Dolls are not Kokeshi Dolls!!”

There are always some people who resist new things or stuff. Now we can understand about Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls. But at the time when Sousaku Kokeshi was born, its must be severely criticized.

The designs of Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls are accepted even nowadays. They might be light-years ahead of their time.

Sousaku Kokeshi Doll Artists lives all over Japan not only in Tohoku like Dento Kokeshi Doll artists.(It is said that Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls were born in Gunma prefecture)

The styles of Dolls are different from each artists.

There are some artists who are not Kokeshi Doll artist originally. There was the artist who was the painter of Japanese style paintings changes canvas to Kokeshi Doll.

It is not exact same but there are some Kokeshi Dolls called commercial Kokeshi Dolls. They are made for just souvenir of sight seeing spots.Mostly they were mass-produced on an assembly line. Everything could be bought if the things had the word “Kokeshi” about 30 years ago.

By the way, there are no tests or exams to be Sousaku Kokeshi Doll artist.You don’t need any qualification or license to be the artist like writers or painters.All you need is equipments.Then you can call yourself Sousaku Kokeshi Doll artist.

How about it?
Why don’t you try to be Sousaku Kokeshi Doll artist?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Kokeshi Master Craftman, the late Mr.Watanabe Masao

In this blog, I' writing about Kokeshi dolls and I will write about artists of Kokeshi dolls.

Each Kokeshi dolls was created by the artist one by one by their hands.

So each Kokeshi doll is only one in the entire world.

Today I'd like to introduce Waranabe Masao, the master craftman of Kokeshi dolls.
This is his most inportant work. The design is called 'Mushin (無心)', meaning 'Innocent' in Japanese.

The artist made this Kokeshi Doll with hoping that everyone who sees this Kokeshi Doll becomes to be innocent again.

This model is exhibited in the exhibition that was hold by the small and medium enterprises agency in United States before.

He bleached the color of wood by using special chemical.

Mr. Watanabe Masao was born in 1917 in Fukushima Prefecture.

Originally, he was a traditional Kokeshi artist but he started Sousaku Kokeshi dolls from 1950.

After stating create Sousaku Kokeshi dolls, he showed a great aptitude for creating Kokeshi dolls.

As I wrote avobe, he is really famous in foreign countries and one of his work preserved at the Toys museum in Nürnberg, Germany nowadays.

Of course, his works are highly regarded in Japan.

He won many awards include the award from the Prime Minister twice ('63, '71).

Sadly, He passed away in 2007 when he was 89 years old.
This is a huge loss of the world of Sousaku Kokeshi world.

I will show you some of his other works.

Oboko (おぼこ)           Kantsubaki (寒椿)

There are many his work in our Rocobee Kokeshi Store.

If you won't have a plan to buy them, please just see his great works!!