During a recent trip to Hirosaki, we spend the afternoon visiting the Tsugaru Traditional Crafts Museum in Kurioshi, Aomori. The main feature of this museum is the creation and display of kokeshi dolls of all shapes and sizes. Kokeshi dolls are traditional Japanese dolls made from wood and painted with various designs. They originated some 200 plus years ago in the Tohoku region and today, many people like to collect them. At this centre, you can purchase the widest selection of kokeshi dolls I have ever seen. For about 300 yen, you can also see the museum upstairs with its extensive display of kokeshi dolls. There would have been several thousands of dolls of different designs and sizes in the museum alone. There is also a craftsman on site making and painting kokeshi dolls which is fascinating to watch. For an additional fee of around 1000 yen, you can paint your own basic kokeshi doll. The first floor also houses one of the biggest wooden kokeshi dolls I have ever seen. There are also lots of kokeshi shaped paper floor and ceiling lanterns.
The museum is about 35km out of Hirosaki. You can catch a bus there from the train station. The museum is located near a river and bridge which in itself is very picturesque. Next to the museum is a shopping area in traditional style wooden buildings which sell a mix of traditional Japanese crafts and Japanese foods and sweets including apple flavored ice cream since the area is famous for its apples. There is also a small outdoor but undercover footbath area where you can sit and bathe your tired feet after a busy day of sightseeing.
Whilst the array of kokeshi dolls is extensive, they are not cheap! I tend to buy buy my dolls from flea markets held around Tokyo on the weekends where you can pick up dolls for significantly lower prices.
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