If you love Kokeshi and Onsen, I highly recommend a trip off the beaten path to Naruko Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. It may take some time and trip planning to get there but this cute little town in Northern Japan is a must see for Kokeshi lovers. We stayed at the Naruko Hotel. They did speak a little English – enough to help when needed. We enjoyed the hotel very much! Very nice and helpful. They provide yukata to wear around the hotel in a cute Kokeshi pattern. They serve breakfast and dinner buffets which were very good! The buffets were filled with Japanese delicacies as well as enough recognizable food for tourists. They have a private onsen you can reserve for 50 minutes for a fee (approximately 2000-5000 yen depending on number of people). Highly recommend reserving before your trip to get a good time if you are interested in private onsen (the Yujo can help with your call!). The hotel also has their own vast Kokeshi collection on display and a cute gift shop. We reserved our room on japanican.com for a reasonable price. They do have a cancellation policy so please keep that in mind when reserving.
While in Naruko, check out the Japanese Kokeshi Museum and Naruko Gorge. The Gorge may take some planning to get transportation out to the site. The Japanese Kokeshi Museum is filled with Kokeshi from various Tohoku areas highlighting the different dolls and artists from each area. You can even paint your own Kokeshi! There is a small fee to tour the museum but it is under 500 yen. Painting the doll costs around 1000 yen. The town has many shops filled with Tohoku kokeshi! This trip could be a part of a Tohoku road/shinkansen trip or a fun girls’ trip weekend.
Also recommend following Naruko_Hotel and tohokukokeshi on Instagram for more information and tips. – Jennifer McCarthy, October 2017
Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture 989-6100, Japan
Japanese Kokeshi Museum:
Shitomae-74-2 Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6827, Japan
Narukoonsen, Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture 989-6100, Japan
Station: Naruko-Onsen Station
Kawarayu Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-6100, Japan