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Natsu Maturi at
Buddhist Temple of Chicago

Buddhist Temple of Chicago’s annual Natsu Maturi (summer festival) was held on June 22. A big grill was installed in the front yard, and volunteers grilled delicious teriyaki chicken. Udon noodles, chirashi sushi, and sweets were sold inside of the temple, and the visitors enjoyed Japanese flavors.

In the hall of the temple, a variety of handmade crafts such as bags, dolls, and toys were sold. The crafts were made by the Craft Group of BTC. The members of the group get together twice a month and make colorful crafts. Their main job is to make a big quilt each year.

Silent auction was held, and valuable lacquerware were available at affordable prices. Good-buy items were also offered, and the visitors enjoyed shopping. Shimpo’s reporter found an oval-shaped tea pot at three dollars.

In the hondo or chapel of BTC, Rev Patti Nakai offered lectures about Buddhism called “Taste of Chicago Buddhism.” It was a series of short 15-minute lectures she offers every year during the Natsu Matsuri. This year’s theme was “Menacing Monsters.” Rev. Nakai said, “In Buddhism there are many examples of scary creatures. Theses stories and images teach us important lessons such as not to be selfish, to become more serious, and to help other people.”

2014 BTC Natsu Matsuri, Cultural Exhibit was “kokeshi”
Kokeshi are handmade wooden dolls with a simple cylindrical trunk and no arms or legs. The head is generally enlarged and hand painted with a few lines to design facial features of eyebrow, eyes, nose and mouth. The maker usually signs the bottom, names the style, or gives some kind of information.

According a panel beside the kokeshi exhibit, kokeshi are thought to have originated from about 1800 to 1829 in the Edo period, in the Tohoku region of Japan.

The farmers during that time were cooped up in their houses and used the time for creating dolls. Another thought was that kokeshi were made by potters, who branched out into wooden dolls to make souvenirs for the onsen (hot spring resorts).

The oldest kokeshi were from the Togatta Onsen in Zao and then spread to other areas in Tohoku region. The most dominant kokeshi is the Naruko style from the Naruko Onsen which spread to Akita, Iwate, and Yamagata Prefectures. There are generally 11 major styles of traditional kokeshi associated with a town or onsen.

The larger kokeshi are thought to have been given in commemoration of child’s birth and if by bad fate the child passed away, the kokeshi was used as a memorial to the child.

All in all, BTC’s Natsu Maturi is a good place to eat, shop, learn, and study.


Poster of Taste of Chicago Buddhism, lectures Rev. Nakai offered


Rev. Patti Nakai
The crafts made by the Craft Group of BTC Valuable lacquerware were available at affordable prices.

Kokeshi exhibit
Origami corner