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However, the atmosphere of Asakusa is not old, outdated or hickish.
The word ‘outdated’ turned the word ‘nostalgic’.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…