October 27, 2007

Unaru No Tomo: Awesome Old Old Japanese Toys

Japanese toy designs k, originally uploaded by peacay.

From the always spectacular BibliOdyssey comes Unaru no Tomo, six volumes of woodblock prints of Japanese toys by Shimizu Harukaze [really? Harukaze?], which was published in Kyoto over a 22 year span during the late Meiji-era [late 19th - early 20th c.].

BiblioOdyssey's got some highlights, but the Akita Prefectural Library has complete scans of all six volumes.

My absolute favorite is this toy boat, which makes me want to go down to the sushi bar, and get the biggest-ass lacquer boat they have--the ones for that crazy sushi platter you've never had enough people to order-- and slap some wheels on it, Then I'd take a silk ribbon from the hilt of my samurai sword and tie it onto the bow.

Of course, if I could carve wood, I'd be carving some of these toy horses and rolling fish, too. This whale is so kawaii, it could be the mascot of an Osaka insurance company right now. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Then there's this odd dumpling-on-tracks toy, no idea what that's about, but it's one of the few that seem to give some hint of the massive modernization push that characterized the era. Someone in Japan has to be making Meiji-style, hand-carved toys these days, no? I'll look into it.

Toying with Japan [bibliodyssey via monoscope]

Unaru no Tomo, ill.: Shimizu Harukaze; pub. 1891-1913, Yamada Geisou-do, Kyoto [apl.pref.akita.jp]


Very nice find! I also have tried to find if Japanese traditional toys are still being made, but am rather limited by not knowing Japanese.
I would think that the "dumpling-on-tracks" toy has some sort of weight inside the shell, so that it turns over and over as it goes down the ramp. Something like this may be a modern equivalent, except it walks rather than turns over: Nurmi the ramp walker.

What's strange about Harukaze? It just means "spring wind(s)".

[not strange, just not sure of the pronunciation. first names are always tricky. -ed.]

Ahh..thanks for getting the volume and author/illustrator names. I've been without an Asian character set on this pc for a year and it drives me a little nuts - not that it would help me per se having them: just makes translating/searching easier.

These are great... I know the wooden dolls are still made in Miyagi-ken and are called kokeshi dolls. The Naruko version makes a squeeking/crying sounds when you twist the head. (I used to live in the region.) More info at http://kokeshiningyo.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/japanese-kokeshi-doll-set-santa-clause-naruko-ningyo/


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