In the morning, we dropped by the Takahasi residence to see if Taka could get some video footage of her. But she was a flurry of activity this morning, we couldn’t even get a word in edgewise to see if we could film.
When we mentioned that some of Takahashi-san’s kokeshi are more hour-glass shaped than others, she joked that he looks at her when he carves his kokeshi. When she was younger, the kokshi were more hour-glass shaped, now that she is elderly, they are more square!
There is a belief among kokeshi-makers that for the kokeshi to have the properly relaxed and calm expression, the production should be the same. So the chopping to the carving to the painting must be done in a meditative state of zen calm, then that calmness imparts itself into the kokeshi.
She remarked that sometimes she will walk into his studio, finding him gazing into the face of one of his own creations in a state of bliss.
There is one extremely rare style of kokeshi, made by only two artisans deep in the mountains of Akita. Occassionally, when someone ventures into the mountains to obtain one of these rare kokeshi, one of the makers is extremely cranky and will chase you off! You will have to return 3 or 4 days in a row until he will finally relent and sell you one of his creations.
It was a lovely visit with a lovely couple, but no video was filmed.
Masako-san’s hands were stained red because she was helping her husband paint kokeshi.
August 10, 2010