On 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th of January each year Tokamachi hosts a traditional craft market, the Chinkoro Market. It’s roots go back to New Year’s markets held by the local farmers who would spend the long winter period when their fields were under snow using bamboo and straw to make goods for daily use. One of the other items sold were small good luck charms made of rice flour in the shape of small animals, often from the zodiac. This are known as chinkoro, which means puppy, though they come in many shapes.
The little figures are only a few centimeters tall and are all handmade from the rice flour and food coloring. Each has been lovingly crafting and is unique. They were traditionally eaten but now are highly-prized as decorations and bearers of good fortune. They are so much in demand that they often sell out early, so if you are keen to admire them, or even purchase one, you should make an early start to the market.
The market is about a 10 minute walk from Tokamachi Station.
The market is a great chance to see a rural tradition continuing into modern times, and it is not hard to imagine farmers back in the day passing the long winter months round the fire making these handicrafts and passing the knowledge down to the younger generation.