Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kokeshi column Vol.2

‘MICHINOKU’, the place where Kokeshi Dolls were born.

Kokeshi Doll is a one of local toys.That means they have been loved and favorite in certain area.

So, where is THE certain area?

The answer is ‘MICHINOKU’.

That is to say TOHOKU area.There are so many local toys in Japan.For example, Akabeko (Fukushima), Sarubobo (Gifu) and Hariko (Tokyo).(If you are interested in them, you can find them in wikipedia)

There are not local toys loved as much as Kokeshi Dolls. If it is too much to say that, Kokeshi Doll is well known in Japan. There are many collectors even nowadays. I can say Kokeshi Dolls are indeed King of Japanese local toys.
So, what kind of place where Kokeshi Dolls were born?
Tohoku is composed of following 6 prefectures. Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima.

At any rate, it is so called and there are much snow in winter time.They have a heavy snowfall that buried houses up to the roof level. You can see nothing but woods.

The chief industries of Tohoku are agricultures mainly rice cultivation.The history of Tohoku agriculture is the battle against the northern limit of rice cultivation. “People of Tohoku vs Sever climate of Tohoku”This is kind of romantic history, isn’t it?

Tohoku is the place that climate is so severe like that. Japanese people believed that the God dwell in the nature.Tohoku people became religious. There are many folk tales, traditional folk songs and Shinto rituals compare to other area of Japan.Sure enough, the influences of nature were great for them. But this severe nature is not only threat for them. That is to say, that is Onsen (hot springs).

There are so many Onsen in Tohoku area. I told that there are 11 categories for Dento (Traditional) Kokeshi Dolls. Each categories matches each Onsen.For example, “Naruko Kokeshi Dolls were from Naruko Onsen” or “Tsuchiyu Kokeshi Dolls were from Tsuchiyu Onsen” and so on.

Tohoku prospered as Onsen resorts in the middle to late EDO period (1700-1867). People went to Onsen to prepare for severe winter climate or celebrate for the good harvest. They brought pots or pans to there. Onsen was radiation place of the energy of Tohoku People.

Originally, Kokeshi dolls were souvenir for the people who come to Onsen.

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