Here’s a new twist on an old Japanese folk art – painting kokeshi doll faces on matches. The original kokeshi figures, introduced a couple centuries ago, were inexpensive souvenir items that visitors to the onsen (spa) villages of northern Japan would buy to give to friends back home. (Even in California, we used to have a half dozen kokeshi, along with snow globes from New York, native American trinkets from the Grand Canyon, and seashells from Hawaii – don’t know what happened to any of them.) It’s the kind of gift that would merit a T-shirt that read: “Grandma went to the onsen and all she brought me was this wooden kokeshi.” Kokeshi dolls were distinguished by their simple rectangular torso, lacking arms and legs, and their enlarged round wooden heads, minimally painted to indicate eyes, hair and maybe a mouth or nose. (Think “Hello Kitty,” who is also missing a mouth.)
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Reading about this website publication, which describes itself as a “global community for people over the age of 50,” brought to mind a recent news story about the rise of “marijuana parties” thrown by aging baby boomers living in retirement villages. The 50+ crowd is a lot more youthful and hip than it used to be. Its ranks include some of the world’s most celebrated “hunks” – Brad Pitt, Colin Firth, Johnny Depp, to name a few. So, it is interesting that the only 50+ publication that comes to mind is AARP’s. Its story content feels aimed at soon-to-be geriatrics, and its advertising weighs heavily toward adult diapers, chair lifts for stairs, arthritis drugs and walk-in bathtubs. Both the design and content of the AARP magazine feel like they were meant to appeal to the generation who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Age 50 was probably set as the dividing line for seniors around 1950 when life expectancy in the U.S. was 65.
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