In Hakata in July, the kazari-yamakasa floats produced by Miyake had been attracting a lot of attention day and night both at Nakasu and at the Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome. The floats were large works in which Miyake had been fully immersed for almost two months before the festival.

 

The main occupation of this true born and bred Hakata man, who says he feels uneasy until the festival is over, is craftsman of Hakata Dolls. Miyake’s skills to fully command the making of the contrasting, delicate, unglazed dolls for indoor displays, as gifts, and the large dolls of warriors and horses that showcase the festival, come from his long experience of shaping and his outstanding creative power.

 

Miyake spent five years in his teens as a live-in apprentice. He watched his master closely during the day to copy the master’s skills, and practiced hard at night without sparing any time for sleep. After spending another five years of free service as an assistant, Miyake became independent. Every time he made some dolls, he jumped into the Hakata doll shops to have the dolls sold. Although the dolls were displayed on shelves, they were put in high places that were difficult to reach. He therefore sought to make dolls that people would be unconsciously tempted to pick up, and sharpened his power of individual expression. He condensed the ancient dramas and heart-softening everyday moments into the graceful postures of the dolls that spontaneously remind one of the flow of gesture. Miyake received a number of awards in his thirties, and his dolls were steadily moved to the lower shelves of the shops.

 

Hakata dolls and yamakasa floats. The master craftsman who has always assumed both tradition and pride suffered a serious sickness eight years ago, and gave up drinking and smoking. Having overcome his sickness, Miyake’s warm sense of humanity that resides in his more sensitive works, wins over the hearts of all who see them.

 

Takashi Miyake

Born in 1935 in Hakata. In 1951, he became a pupil of Torao Kawasaki. In 1961, he became independent. In 1972, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award at the 23rd Hakata New Doll Exhibition held in Fukuoka City, and has since received the same award five times, becoming the most awarded craftsman. In 2002, he was recognized as “Gendai no Meiko” (Contemporary Master Craftsmen) by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. In 2004, he was awarded the Medal with Yellow Ribbon.

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)