Kiso-hirasawa in Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture, is a famous town for lacquer ware. Naraijuku, located about 2 km away, is a classy historical town used as a stop for Edo period Daimyo (feudal lords) during their trips to and back from the capital. They both are wonderfully atmospheric towns nationally registered as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. These neighboring towns both throw a festival on the very same dates.
In Kiso-hirasawa, the Kiso Shikki-sai (Kiso lacquer festival) is held. There are approximately 180 lacquer ware shops in town, and a major lacquer ware market is held during the festival dates. It is an opportunity to find items only available during this time, or in finding items at special prices. The festival is the place to be, even for those who are discovering lacquer ware for the first time.
In Naraijuku, the Shukuba-sai festival is held. There are special features such as “Kimono machi-aruki” (Kimono town-walk) where you will receive something special for wearing your kimono out. A photo contest is held as well. On Sunday, the “Ochatsubo-dochu” (tea pot parade) is held. It reenacts the procession of people transporting pots of Uji-cha (green tea from Uji, Kyoto) during the Edo period from Kyoto to Edo (present day Tokyo). Reminiscent of historic picture scrolls, the sight of the parade is a must see.
Narai Shukuba-sai’s main event is the Ochatsubo-dochu held from noon on the 5th. The event depicts scenes from the Edo period when green tea harvested exclusively for the Shogun were carried from Kyoto to Edo in an impressive large parade. At a rate, you are even able to join the parade through prior reservation. Please experience the romantic Edo atmosphere.
Kiso Shikki (Kiso’s lacquer ware) is Kiso-hirasawa’s very own traditional craft. There is such a variety to its products, from the commonly seen bowls to lacquer wine glasses and magnets. There are items you won’t see anywhere else, and some at exceptional prices, so please find your own favorite. You may even be able to bargain with the sellers!
Kiso-hirasawa and Naraijuku both are towns designated as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Please enjoy the unique structures. A photo contest is carried out in Naraijuku, so walk the town wearing your kimono. There are rental kimono shops that help you dress it on, so don’t miss this chance to walk through this romantic scenery!
Houbamaki is sweet bean paste wrapped in mochi (rice cake) enveloped in Magnolia leaves and then steamed. The steaming of the leaves gives off a rich fragrance. Only available during the time of the year when Magnolia leaves are available, the Houbamaki are a popular traditional confection.
Please be aware that there will be traffic regulations in Kiso-Hirasawa and Naraijuku during the festival dates.
Kiso-Hirasawa Station (Shikki-sai location), Narai Station (Shukuba-sai location)
JR Chuo Main Line
3 min walk from Kiso-Hirasawa Station
1 min walk from Narai Station