In warm and pleasant weather we headed up the hill above the tourist area and found the shrine. There was a quiet, solemn atmosphere at the shrine, and a number of kokeshi enthusiasts and craftsmen were sitting in chairs facing two tables covered with old kokeshis. There was also an elevated platform with more used kokeshis behind the group. It was dusk, and as it got dark the ceremony began.
Much of the ceremony consisted of individuals from the Naruko kokeshi community saying a few words to the group. Then a Shinto priest did a few waves of the ceremonial paper thing (I don't know what it's called) while an American film crew from Seattle was on hand gathering footage for a documentary they were making (as was a Japanese videographer).
|The shrine grounds before the ceremony began. Those torches were cool.|
|Old kokeshis. Why are they on this platform?|
|The Shinto priest doing the ceremony.|
|See the American film crew?|
|The Japanese videographer.|
|Saying a few words. I have to admit that I was pretty much lost by this point.|
|Lighting the kokeshi bonfire.|
|There they go.|
|A couple of smoldering kokeshis rolled off the pyre.|
|These ladies were singing what must have been a dirge.|
|Adding more kokeshis.|