Naoko, Naoko's mother, the girls and I departed Tokyo at about 5:30 am, got on the Tohoku Expressway, and were in the Naruko area (a spectacular river valley northwest of Sendai) before lunch. Naruko, for those who don't know, is not just an onsen town: It is also a kokeshi town. That's right, a kokeshi town (!) where currently about 25 different craftsmen live and make traditional kokeshis of the Naruko type (鳴子系). If there is a Mecca for the kokeshi world Naruko is probably it, simply because of the sheer number of kokeshi makers who live there, and the fact that the area's identity is wrapped up as much with kokeshis as it is with hot baths. And that's saying a lot since Naruko is considered to be one of Japan's top onsen towns. To have a kokeshi festival there is truly icing on the cake.
See our photos of the drive leading into the town, and I'll continue in the next blog with an overview of the festival.
|Entering the town.|
|I wish I had needed to make a phone call...|