Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Michinoku Kokeshi Festival: Sakunami Onsen みちのくこけし祭: 作並温泉

We arrived at Sendai around five o'clock, and had a room waiting for us in a chain hotel in the city. However, we decided to drive up to Sakunami Onsen 作並温泉 for dinner, to see some kokeshis, and take a dip in an onsen.
There was a beautiful sunset as we were eating dinner.
For dinner we stopped at a nice little Italian restaurant (L'Albero) where we've dined before, and it was delicious as usual. The restaurant is about half way up the valley toward the onsen area and is a good marker when travelling. Highly recommended! About 20 minutes after eating we entered the Sakunami area, passing the two giant welcoming kokeshis, and then driving down a small hill to the Hiraga Kokeshi Shop 平賀こけし店 and the spectacular Ichinobo Onsen 一の坊温泉. Mr. Hiraga wasn't at the shop since he was participating in the Togatta Lathe Festival 遠刈田轆轤まつり,  but his mother was there so the shop was open. 
We visited Sakunami last December and have been to the Hiraga Kokeshi Shop numerous times, so it was a real surprise to see the renovations the showroom has undergone since our last visit. Everything is now dark wood with directed lighting as you'll see in the photos below. I don't know if Mr. Hiraga did the renovations himself, but the shop now looks absolutely fantastic.
Of course there were plenty of Sakunami kokeshis for sale, and Mr. Hiraga continues to be very innovative with his designs while still retaining his traditional kokeshi roots. Naoko found a couple of small kokeshis that she had to have, and I'll show those in an upcoming blog.

Naoko and the girls enjoying the new shop.

Big kokeshi.
This was also a pretty big kokeshi.
It was nice to be back in Sakunami where it was already quite chilly -- perfect onsen weather. We didn't stay in the shop for too long since we had to get into the onsen, and then back down to Sendai to our hotel. However, I'm glad we made the trip and got to see Mrs. Hiraga. Our latest kokeshi adventure had begun.

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