Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 National Kokeshi Festival part 2 2014 全国こけし祭り 2

Fairly early Saturday morning we got up early and headed from our inn back up to Naruko Onsen for another ceremony at the Naruko Onsen Kokeshi Shrine to be held one hour before the festival venue opened. On the way we stopped briefly at the local bakery across from the city hall where I noticed three different event posters hanging in the window. Very nice.
In contrast to the previous night's ceremony that was about bidding farewell to old, unwanted kokeshis, this ceremony was a dedication ceremony to welcome new kokeshis. When we arrived people were already milling around, with the kokeshi makers and invited guests going inside the shine for the actual ceremony. Oddly enough, until this point I didn't know that people could actually go into a Shinto shrine.
Back at the Kokeshi Shrine.
As we were waiting for the ceremony to finish I noticed that there were two kokeshi-related stone monuments on the shrine grounds. The smaller of the two simply said "Kokeshi Song Monument," while the larger one might be loosely translated as "Even though Michinoku is far away, like a dream, a heart's mountains, a heart's kokeshi." 
The small monument.
And the large monument.
This banner hanging on the front of the shrine says "National Kokeshi Festival Dedication Ceremony."
After the ceremony ended a few of us went inside the shrine to take a look, and in the back room of the shrine was a display area with about 55 kokeshis on a tiered display unit. I presume they had been given a Shinto blessing.
Meanwhile, at the end of the ceremony everyone involved gathered for a group photo to mark the occasion.
Oh yes, one more thing. During the ceremony I was wandering around the grounds and looked into the shrine shop where I found its traffic-safety prayer sticker for sale. As can be seen in the photo, it has a very nice kokeshi theme and is one of the coolest things I got during this adventure. This will definitely be going on our car!
The Traffic-Safety Prayer sticker.
It was now about 9:30 and the ceremony was over. At 10 AM the doors for the main festival venue would be open like Willie Wonka's chocolate factory for the lucky children, so we walked over to the school where the event was being held and got in line. More on that in the next blog entry.

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