Known locally as “Konpira-san”, Kotohiragu Shrine is located in Kotohira, Kanagawa prefecture.
Kotohiragu is famous for the long stone steps that lead to the shrine: 785 steps to the main shrine, and a total of 1,368 steps all the way to the rear shrine!
At the 30th step, you can find Yamanaka Zoudou.
Sanuki ittobori refers to a Japanese woodcarving method where chisel marks are left unsmoothed.
The harmony between the roughness of the striking chisel and the tenderness of the finishing chisel is said to be the charm of the technique. It has been designated as Kagawa prefecture’s traditional craft.
A fashionably scowling POP Daruma Doll !!
This is Yamanaka Zoudou’s modern take on the traditional Daruma Doll that’s reaching overwhelming popularity, at the moment.
The POP Daruma Doll is a product of ittobori crafts. Its special characteristic is the colorful design that’s applied after it has been carved with a chisel from a single piece of camphorwood.
The whole process is done manually, and as only one carving can be finished in one day, currently due to their popularity, the wait for one doll from order reservation until it reaches the customer’s hands is around 3 years!
I wonder what the circumstances were which led to POP Daruma being created from a traditional craft that has been handed down for over a hundred years…
At the moment, Yamanaka Zoudou is being jointly run by the 3rd generation owner, Takeshi Yamanaka, and his daughter Nozomi.
Nozomi, the 4th generation, originally studied Art at university. After graduation she started helping with the family business and received training under the instruction of her father.
One day when she was practicing Daruma carving, she looked at the pencil marks drawn on the wood that indicate where to carve and had a thought: “Wouldn’t it be cute if I used these marks and made them into a polka dot pattern.”
Although the prototype of the POP Daruma unfortunately wasn’t successful at a contest showcasing Kagawa prefecture’s products, the father and daughter felt that it had “that something”.
After changing its height from 10 cm’s (the prototype sent to the contest) to 7 cm’s and selling it at their shop at the reasonable price of JPY6000, the dolls started to sell at a good pace.
In the beginning, the dolls were sold only with three standard designs: whirls, stripes or polka dots. However, as consultations increased with customers asking whether different designs would be possible to make, the store began to accept orders for custom designs.
POP Daruma, born from a fusion of a technique passed on from generation to generation and a modern design.
With the 4th generation applying a modern design to the Daruma diligently hand-carved with the 3rd generation’s high skills, the charm and value of the craft called Sanuki ittobori is again in the spotlight.
Although the doll’s expression seems angry and a bit scary, it is also somehow cute.
Thinking 3 years into the future, how about having your own original POP Daruma made?
Address: 980 Kotohira-cho, Nakatado District, Kagawa Prefecture, 766-0001
Business hours: 8PM~5PM
Holidays: No holidays
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yumi Kobayashi
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