Innovations and Tradition of Kokeshi Dolls
Konnichiwa! This is ariTV’s Kusakari.
We are introducing you the Ganguan Kokeshi Shop in Sendai’s Akiu Craft Park.
Kokeshi dolls are wooden toys which has gained popularity as a souvenir since the end of the Edo era (1603-1868).
They are made with a wheel and divided into the 11 groups based on places they are crafted (most of them are hot springs in the Tōhoku region).
Kokeshi in each group have different expression and patterns and is available in many varieties.
The Ganguan Kokeshi Shop produces Sendai Kokeshi of the Sakunami group. Akira Suzuki is its owner.
There are several stories about Sendai Kokeshi’s origin and one of them tells it was a toy for children at first.
It has a distinctive narrow part in its body so that kids can easily hold in hand.
Kiyoshi, a grandfather of Akira-san, reproduced Enakichi Kokeshi (a former model of Sendai Kokeshi) which had been thought to be lost for good and opened Ganguan as a Kokeshi studio.
Ganguan’s first owner Kiyoshi Suzuki
Akira-san pointed out that you have to keep trying new things to carry on tradition. It takes a lot of courage to develop a new thing. In the world of traditional crafts, people have their own viewpoints and when Akira-san make a type of Kokeshi, he was blamed by lots of people.
One of his novel works is “Kokeshi-chan and o-futon” produced in cooperation with handcrafter chural based in Tōkyō.
Their novel craft is popular among young women because of its size and cuteness, and sell out every time it’s exhibited at events.
Other than futon, Akira-san and chural-san have combined kokeshi with various items such as a muffler, cap, and house.
“Making Kokeshi is primarily very lonely task. Working with other crafters and artisans is inspiring. I’d like to interact with many people and keep making good things.”
Ganguan Kokeshi Shop