Kokeshi Dolls at Ikaho Onsen
© Usaburo Kokeshi Cafe & Gallery
Master kokeshi doll artisans run a gallery that brings together art, craft and coffee at the Ikaho Onsen hot spring resort
Kokeshi are wooden dolls that have been a craft tradition for centuries. At Ikaho Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, the craft has been preserved and passed down for generations at Usaburo Kokeshi, where skilled artisans continue to produce modern and traditional kokeshi, as well as offer workshops where you can make your very own kokeshi.
Today, the master woodworkers have turned their skilled hands toward another craft, coffee. Right in the heart of Ikaho Onsen, Usaburo Kokeshi Café & Gallery sells takeout-style specialty coffee and cute branded kokeshi castella, which are fluffy, sweet bite-sized cakes.
Ikaho Onsen is centered around the Ishidangai, which are 365 stone steps that you can explore through winding streets, soothing hot springs and traditional buildings. The café is located on the 190th step, about halfway up, so you can drop in for a break on your Ikaho journey.
When you visit the café, you will discover various types of kokeshi. In addition to the traditional Yura Koro and Okappa styles, there are also kokeshi modeled after characters from anime like Dragon Ball and Hunter x Hunter, or international favorites like Moomin and Star Wars.
How to get there
From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station (about 50 minutes), then switch to the Agatsuma Line headed to Shibukawa Station (about 30 minutes). Ikaho Onsen is about 25 minutes by bus from Shibukawa Station. The gallery is located on the left at the 190th step of Ikaho Onsen.
50-3 Ikaho, Ikaho-machi, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma-ken