*This article was posted on October 25, 2022.
The All Japan Kokeshi Festival was held for the first time in three years on September 3rd and 4th, 2022!
What is the Kokeshi Festival?
Naruko Onsen is located in the center of Naruko Onsen, which is known as one of the three famous hot springs of Oshu. This is also the production area of Naruko Kokeshi, which is famous nationwide. You can meet Naruko Kokeshi dolls on post boxes and public telephones in the shopping street named "Kokeshi Street".
The "National Kokeshi Festival", where traditional kokeshi dolls from all over Japan are gathered in this "Kokeshi Town", started in 1948 as "Naruko Kokeshi Festival" (renamed to "All Japan Kokeshi Festival" in 1953), and this year marks the 66th time.
It features lots of kokeshi-related events such as Kokeshi memorial festival, kokeshi dedication ceremony, demonstration and sales of traditional kokeshi dolls from different production areas, kokeshi painting experience, kokeshi symposium, kokeshi festival contest, and festival parade with out of this world looking lantern-skin kokeshi dolls and people wearing kokeshi patterned yukata. At the festival, you will be surrounded by the enthusiasm of many Kokeshi fans. Kokeshi, Kokeshi, 3 days full of Kokeshi! Please come and visit us!Quoted from the official website
The festival actually started on September 2nd, the day before the festival to distribute numbered tickets for the kokeshi doll sales venue.
The distribution location was Naruko General Branch. Numbered tickets were distributed from 15:30. I arrived about 2 hours early and there was already a line. There was no one but only chairs lined up in the leading group of the line . Days before the event, they wrote their names on the chairs so that they can take turns. This is not an official rule, but it seems to be an unwritten rule in the Kokeshi area. A similar phenomenon can be observed in any related event. It seems that the person at the top of the line came to Naruko Onsen more than a week ago and left his chair.
I was able to get a numbered ticket in the 50s when I lined up two hours earlier. With this, I was promised that I could safely enter the sales venue the next day.
On that day, I stayed at the Naruko Hotel, which is located in front of Naruko Elementary School, where the sales will take place.
I had always wanted to stay at this hotel as they let their guests wear Yukata with a Kokeshi doll pattern. The delicious buffet style meal and the wonderful hot spring also made me super happy. I would highly recommend this hotel.
Continue to part 2.