tottori folklore through the eyes of a leather craftsman

Ko-ma’s leather pins are crafted by Kodai Asakura, a leather craftsman and artist. Asakura worked for a leather bag manufacturer in Hyogo for several years before moving to the home of his great-grandfather in Tottori with his wife, Mai Yanagihara, who is a glass artist. They established ko-ma together, creating playful brooches, amulets, and other objects inspired by spirits of European festivals, Japanese yokai, and the iconic Tottori folk masks made by local shop Yanagiya.

When the owners of Yanagiya saw ko-ma’s brooches, they praised them as cute and well-made. Asakura crafts the brooches by laser-patterning and cutting them, and then wetting them with water which helps them take on their three-dimensional shapes. Asakura, who studied graphic design in art school, takes great care to honor the essence of Yanagiya’s masks, with their comical and slightly eerie expressions.

In the tradition of yanagiya

Their leather brooches pay homage to folk masks originally crafted by beloved local folk toy shop Yanagiya, such as the Kirin-jishi, a mythical lion which inspired Tottori’s traditional lion dance, the Nuke (pronounced Nuké), and Shojo, spirits which accompanied the Kirn-jishi, the Ao Hanatare (green runny-nose) character, a shinto spirit with a rather foul mouth, which was performed during Gongen festivals of the feudal era, and last but not least, the White Rabbit of Inaba, a legend at the heart of Tottori’s identity, and one of the origin stories of Japan itself.