Tuesday, March 15, 2011

humanizing the quake (miyagi)

What do you know about the people who were most affected by the Great Tohoku Earthquake? The Tohoku region is a geographical area of Japan, occupying the northeastern part of Japan's main island of Honshu. It consists of the six prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata. It has a wonderfully rich cultural tradition, some of which I hope to introduce to you on this blog.

I decided to start with Kokeshi dolls, a well-known folk craft of Japan. The two etegami posted here show versions traditionally made in Miyagi prefecture (of which Sendai city is the capital).

The Kokeshi is a limbless wooden doll with a cylindrical body and a round pivoting head. It usually represents female figures, with a round smooth head on which is painted eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and hair. The head is then attached to the cylindrical body decorated with simple but bright designs. It is either produced from one piece of wood or with the separate head and body joined together. (quoted from A Cultural Dictionary of Japan. Momoo Yamaguchi, ed.)


  1. Wonderful, Debbie. Even though Alan Booth's explanation of 'kokeshi' as "extinguished child" might not be true, for me it has been a "lie" that told a "truth" about all the hardships people in Tohoku have endured over the centuries. And so it continues...thanks again.

  2. I really appreciate you taking this direction for your etigami right now.

  3. I completely forgot you were in that region. My heart goes out to everyone there. I hope you and yours are okay. Thank you for introducing us further to a culture so important to you. Be well.

  4. I like learning about the people and land here. I still can't wrap my head around the long road ahead, or even the small first step to recovery. My heart is so heavy for everyone right now. But my hope is strong as well.