On the morning of September 2nd we checked out of our inn and headed back to the kokeshi festival for a final look around, and to say goodbye to our friends. I took some pictures of some scenes of Naruko along the way since it was decked out with a red and white banner for the kokeshi festival. The town really went all out for the kokeshi enthusiasts who came from all over Japan, and the event did not disappoint.
When we arrived at the parking lot I noticed that there was a Shinto parade going by. They were carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine), and there was even a guy wearing a tengu 天狗 mask (see photo). That was really neat!
Naoko went inside the kokeshi venue while I was taking pictures of the parade, which gave me a chance to visit one of the outside vendors that I had been eyeing. The two photos below show some beautiful handmade kokeshi-inspired goods made by a woodworker in Kunitachi City 国立市 in Tokyo (カガモクKagamoku: Click for the blog). The guy's wife is from Naruko, so he specializes in kokeshi items that evoke that part of Japan. Most of the items for sale were tea and coffee implements, as well as some chopsticks with little kokeshi heads on them. I bought a pair of these for Naoko as a birthday present. Next we'll have to visit the shop as a local kokeshi adventure.
The following photos were taken inside the venue -- there was still lots to see even towards the end of the event.
Below is a photo of a historic photo of the National Kokeshi Festival as it appeared a number of decades ago. While the built environment has changed considerably, the large kokeshis in the parade show that the festival's spirit remains the same today.
|One last view of a giant welcoming kokeshi on the side of the road. Naoko took this as we were leaving the area.|