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Akasaka Ningyo dolls

Play time
5:41

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We introduce you to simple yet heart-warming Akasaka Ningyo dolls being passed down throughout generations in Akasaka, Chikugo City; which has been flourishing since the Edo period as the designated kiln of Arima Domain - the origin of Akasaka porcelain. 

Intro

Introの画像

Do you know what Akasaka Ningyo dolls are?

Also known as Teteppopo are these

simple yet lovable, traditional works of craft.

In this episode, we introduce you to Akasaka Ningyo dolls -a Mayor-designated traditional item of Fukuoka.

Akasaka Ningyo dolls

Akasaka Ningyo dollsの画像

Flourishing since the mid Edo period as the designated kiln of Arima Domain, is the town of Chikugo Akasaka - the origin of Akasaka porcelain.

It has been told that the beginning goes back to when those who had been working at other kilns started making these dolls on their spare time.

Teteppopo

Teteppopoの画像

This is craftsman Mr. Noguchi, whose family has been 
creating Akasaka Ningyo dolls for 5 generations.
Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me.
The dolls are very cute and straight-forward, aren't they?
What are some of the distinctive features?
All Akasaka Ningyo dolls have these particular shapes.
And we put the clay into these specific molds.
As one side of the mold meets the other,
we leave out the excess just as they are.
Teteppopo is an Akasaka dialect meaning
"not so smooth" or "uncoordinated" - hence the unorthodox look. . .
which is what people love.
What are they made of?
Akasaka used to produce some high-quality clay,
so we use just that.
Can you show us the process of making them?
Sure.

Working the clay into a shell

Working the clay into a shellの画像

Mr. Noguchi, what is being done right now?
I'm working the clay.
As you work it, 
you want to shape it into like a shell.
It takes all of your body weight to do this.
 

Placing the clay into a mold

Placing the clay into a moldの画像

So, what's next?
I'm putting it into a mold.
You want to make sure you can get it out easily
when it's finished, so I'm applying some ashes.
Apply pressure firmly and nicely with all fingers.
As you apply pressure,
you want to do so one side at a time.
Or else, the mold would crack. So, you have to be careful.
Is that the excess part you were talking about?
Yes.
You leave that out, and touch it up nicely.
Air dry it well, and bake it in a kiln at 800 degrees Celsius.
 

Painting

Paintingの画像

Finally, the painting.
Right, we will do that at this point.
How many colors do you usually use?
3 to 4 colors.
As for the whistles, 
we don't paint the mouthpiece.
All these are traditional colors and designs.
Each one turns out uniquely different from the rest.
That's right.
Some turn out well, some not so much.
They are all unglazed, so the surface is rough.
It's pretty difficult to apply colors on them.
This here is an owl whistle, and this is the final product.

Valuable molds handed down for many generations

Valuable molds handed down for many generationsの画像

How many molds are there all together?
About 25 to 26.
About 10 of them are whistles.
Would there be more in the future?
There is only one mold for each,
so if they crack or break. . . That's it. We don't remake them.
 
Created with a thorough process of traditional skills,
simple and heart-warming Akasaka Ningyo dolls.
Let's continue preserving this craft for years to come.
 

 

Map

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