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On July 2nd, Kenji and I drove up to a famous kokeshi factory up on Mt. Haruna in order to make our own kokeshi!

Kokeshi are wooden dolls with painted on features. They are a famous Japanese craft, and very beautiful!

There was a mini kokeshi museum, so we were able to see many different examples! We also got to see how they are made! This snow covered one was one of my favorites, but that size is VERY expensive!

After seeing the museum and factory part, we began making our own! I chose a small size, and some already made kokeshi as an example, while Kenji decided to do his favorite character, a dog named Don Shiborione!

You start with a vaguely egg-shaped piece of wood

Then draw with pencil

Then paint

And when the paint dries, they put a glossy finish on it, and voila! A brand new kokeshi!

Kenji making his Don Chan!

The next day, we decided to go in search of something Fujioka is famous for, but we have never seen. The Sanbaseki is a natural formation of large and unusually shaped rocks along a river that runs through Fujioka. They are pretty unique, and were a famous tourist destination even in the Edo period of Japanese history. Unfortunately, we got pretty lost trying to find them, passing them entirely and instead driving way deep into the mountains. When we realized what happened, we tried to come back the “scenic route” on the Saitama side of things, and instead found ourselves on the narrowest, most overgrown road I have EVER seen in Japan, and in a country of tiny winding roads, that is really saying something!

It was an adventure. We were starving when we finally got to the rocks, so we ate bites of pre-made sandwiches while taking pictures before we lost the light. Fun times!

Teeny tiny road!

But nice views of the lake and the dam!

Kenji translated this sign about the rocks!

Looking at the rocks and the bridge. If you read the sign, they continue pretty far down the river!

Now looking up!

I went and climbed the big one… they are pretty darn huge!

Taking more pictures

All in all it was a fun weekend!