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Handmade Kokeshi: Paint them yourself!
Price: 800 yen
On the walk from Matsushimakaigan station to the the shrines and temple in Matsushima, you'll see this shop on the left side of the street. Naohide Kokeshi shop is run by a little old couple, one of whom you can frequently see at the woodworking station at the front of the store, finishing the doll-shapes on a machine as passers-by watch.
Inside the shop, the walls are lined with shelves of professionally constructed dolls, some in simpler traditional designs while others are more elaborate. Some of the more expensive pieces include carved details as well.
One of the biggest draws of this place, other than supporting a mom-and-pop shop filled with unique souvenirs, is the ability to paint your own. For 800 yen, you too can do the work of the kokeshi master and paint a doll with yellow, red, and black paint. The paints and brushes are provided (though the paint tends to run and the brushes are a bit thick, so if you're looking for hard-core detail work, bring your own utensils) as well as a space where you can paint to your heart's content.
Unless you're great at going with the flow, I do not recommend sharing a kokeshi painting session with a small child. The results will be a bit strange.
On the far wall sit kokeshi painted by amateurs including some local celebrities, the pictures of whom hang nearby as well as at the front of the shop.
If you lack the time or energy to paint, there are plenty of other options, ranging in price from a few hundred yen to somewhere above 10000 yen. The least expensive options are smaller souvenirs fitting the kokeshi doll theme, including eco-bags, ear-picks, key-chains, magnets, and many others. On our recent trip, we even found boxes of matches with little kokeshi faces painted on!
So if you're looking for a crafty souvenir or looking to make one yourself, Matsushima Naohide Kokeshi shop is the best place to turn in Matsushima.