top of page

Materials for local toys

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

This text is a reprint of the article on February 22, 2018 of the blog "Bingoya-san" that I "Zubonbo" has been writing since 2012.

When it comes to local toys, the first thing that comes to mind is clay dolls and papier-mache dolls.

A clay doll is literally a doll made of soil, and a papier mache is a doll made of paper. But local toys are not only made from plants such as trees, bamboo and straw. In any case, it is made from natural materials that have existed in Japan since ancient times and are inexpensive.

Local toys are, so to speak, eco-friendly products.

Let's start with the soil. Perhaps the material for the first toys created was soil. Tools are needed for trees, etc., and paper will appear later. Soil that can be shaped by simply twisting it by hand without a mold is considered to be the first. Our ancestors excel in earthenware such as earthenware, haniwa, and clay figurines.

Hand-twisted clay dolls that strongly retain the primitive features of Kumamoto's Konoha monkey were born. This is said to be the oldest local toy. There is a very old legend. On New Year's Day in the 7th year of Yoro (723), an old man who stood on a dream pillow worshiped Kasuga Daimyojin in Nara, made a ritual vessel from the soil of Konohayama, and threw away the surplus soil and flew away in the shape of a monkey. Then, a giant like a tengu appeared, telling him that he could be happy if he made a monkey from the soil of Mt. Konoha, and then the villagers were born from the legend that they lived happily.

It is very mundane and represents the prosperity of the descendants of human origin.

I make only monkeys all the time, but recently, the zodiac signs and festivals are also made and it is very popular at Bigoya.

Mr. Nakamura says that it would be great if he could keep the tradition and make new ones.

The reason why there are many clay dolls in the local toys may be due to the length of their history.

Eventually, if the technique of pottery is transmitted from China and China through Korea, the technique of making dolls will be further improved.

The "ancestor of clay dolls" is the Fushimi doll made in Fushimi, Kyoto.

From the Heian period, using the soil of Mt. Fushimi near Fushimi Inari, we created Sue pottery (ceramic pottery produced from the Kofun period to the Heian period) for worshipers. After that, it is said that the Fushimi dolls developed further by bringing to Fushimi a skillful Korean potter who was brought back when Hideyoshi sent troops to Korea. So to speak, it's abduction. I started making fox clay dolls and magic dolls as souvenirs for worship. And in the Edo period, it developed a lot.

After all, Fushimi Inari is located in the capital of Kyoto, and since it was the former closure of the Inari Shrine, there were many worshipers. Most of the Fushimi dolls were for ~.

At that time, there were more than 50 doll shops.

It was customary to ask for a Fushimi doll as a souvenir, take it home, and sow it in the field to get a good harvest. It is a magic that comes from the belief of Fushimi Inari, a farming god.

For this reason, Fushimi dolls spread from Fushimi Kaido to Tokaido, from Fushimi to Osaka and then to western countries, and to the Tohoku region such as Sado and Aomori by Matsumae ship on the Sea of ​​Japan side. Is now made.

It's more profitable to make it yourself, so I made a mold from the doll I bought and sold it. It's a story of a laid-back era without copyright.

This is why Fushimi dolls are called "the ancestors of earthen dolls".

There were two doll shops a while ago, but now there are only 1.2 doll shops.

One is Mr. Tokio Onishi (Shigetaro), who has been running for seven generations. Tanka, which was founded during the Kan'en era (around 1750), is probably still doing 0.2 houses, but when I went to Fushimi a few years ago, a new souvenir shop in front of the gate was opened. Because I was making Fushimi dolls. I used to make it everywhere, so I thought it would be okay to make it. So I decided to make 0.2. There is one of the two shops I talked about earlier, the shop that sold the works of the abandoned Hishiya.

About 10 years ago, it was stolen that three large prototypes were displayed at the storefront of Tanka. Mania, including me, has bad habits. (Laughs) Since then, the prototype has been retracted to the back of the store.

It's hard to talk about Tanka's head with a college graduate, but it's a shop worth visiting. (I want to go someday too!)

At that time, there were more than 50 doll shops.

Fushimi puppeteer's ancestor "Kouemon Ikaruga"

A puppeteer who is said to have been in the Momoyama era, a legendary person who made puppets from Fushimi from a wanderer and eventually served Hideyori Toyotomi and died in the summer camp in Osaka.

A doll with the signature of Koemon on his back occasionally appears from the antique shop. It was recently put up for auction online.

There used to be 150 clay doll producing areas throughout Japan during the Edo period and about 90 before the war. Currently, the number has decreased to about 30. Many of these have been made based on Fushimi dolls.

If you could get the soil, you could make it anywhere.

Origin of clay dolls

There are clay dolls alongside yakimono, such as from yakimono and tile-producing areas like Aichi prefecture (2 now, 10 in the past), and from areas that bake daily miscellaneous goods such as Hirosaki, Aomori and Imado, Tokyo. It came to be made, and it became my main business. The clay dolls of local toys are different from pottery,

It is baked at a low temperature.

Therefore, it is very fragile, but its ease may be the good point of local toys.

I will introduce how to make clay dolls again. First, make a prototype. Cover it with clay and when it dries, divide it in half to make a female mold. Knead the clay (this is the same as steak, it seems that clay that has been laid down a little is good. I hunted anteaters on the South American TV I saw the other day and went to pick it up about 3 days later. (Not eaten), fill the front and back molds, pull out, stick the front and back, dry and bake. After that, sprinkle with whitewash and color it. Gofun is used by mixing shells with glue made of gelatin taken from animal bones.

Since clay is the main material for clay dolls, it can be said that the production area of pottery is the production area of clay dolls.

Fushimi dolls (from Fukakusa-yaki) and Sendai's Tsutsumi dolls (originating from Tsutsumi-yaki. Nagasaki's Koga dolls (from Nagasaki-yaki)) are said to be the three major earthen dolls in Japan.

In the Hakata doll production area of Fukuoka Prefecture, the technique was used to develop the making of clay dolls in the sandbar. In this way, there are some production areas that are not in the flow of Fushimi.

As a strange clay doll, the tile monkey and the tile cow of Wakayama. There are monkeys in Hirado's Sanbaso.

Next is the tree.

There used to be wood carving bears in every home. Kakuyuu My house was also in the doll case under the TV even though I had never been to Hokkaido. And Kokeshi dolls.

The wood carving bear is the wood carving that Owari-Tokugawa's 19th generation Tokugawa sought in Switzerland in 1918, and was passed on to the poor Ainu farmers through the vassals of the Owari clan who settled in Hokkaido.

Is the representative of wooden toys a kokeshi doll?

Eigenji Temple (Higashiomi City) in Shiga Prefecture is said to have the roots of Kijishi.

The imperial family in the early Heian period. There is a legend that the first prince of Emperor Montoku, Koretaka-shinno, invented the potter's wheel for the first time. About 1200 years ago, the vassals who were told about the potter's wheel (Kokeshiya, Tottori / Iwai Onsen's sawdust shop still have this name) got their approval and got a tree from here. It is a legend that he became a woodworker in various places in search of it.

We made bowls and trays in hot spring areas in Hakone and Tohoku and sold them as souvenirs for hot springs.

Eventually, toys such as tops and kokeshi dolls began to be created for my child, which became a good souvenir for hot spring customers, and wooden toys and kokeshi dolls became famous.

It is said that the toys called Kiji Tatsuma made by Tohoku Kokeshi dolls have come to be made from the technique of Hakone work. Russian matryoshka is also modeled on Hakone work.

The wooden toys for hot spring souvenirs include wooden toys made from paulownia from Hinagu Onsen in Kyushu.

The 12 zodiac signs of Iwai in Tottori prefecture are famous.

By the way, in the Kokeshi and local toy world, Kokeshi dolls that have been made in the six prefectures of Tohoku for a long time (craftsmen move to Hokkaido and Kanto later) are traditional Kokeshi dolls, and souvenirs made in Hakone, Oyama, Gunma, etc. Is distinguished from tourist kokeshi dolls.

The regular meeting of the Tokyo Kokeshi Friend's Association is currently held in Kanda, but when I was a high school student, the venue was Gakushuin University in Mejiro.

When I came to Tokyo once in a while, TV actor Yasuo Hisamatsu was in attendance, and most of the bids were sold. Mr. Hisamatsu was the protagonist of the detective drama "Mr. Himana Jumping Out", which was a hot topic at the time. Bidding was a purchasing method that I knew at that time, and it was a far cry from me as a high school student.

In addition, Miharu, Kinoshita, and Yawata pieces, which are called the three major pieces of Tohoku.

All are rocking horses born from horse-producing areas.

All of these are made in Tohoku, but the wood products with different coat colors are Kobe dolls made in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. This is a rare urban karakuri toy that came to be made as a souvenir for foreigners coming to Japan from Kobe Port in the Meiji era. It has been revived last year, repeating several abolitions and abortions.

The material for kokeshi dolls is white wood such as Mizuki and Acer mono. Rocking horses are cheap, easy to obtain, and easy to process, such as pine and cedar. Hinagu Onsen uses expensive paulownia as a material, but it is because it makes paulownia geta scraps. In addition, there are Sasano carvings made by shaving Kosiabra (Ukogi), flowers in Tohoku and Utsunomiya, and Chigi boxes of warp wood.

There are bricks made of sawdust from wood glued together.

The red products created in Konosu, Saitama Prefecture were intangible cultural properties, Ise, and once Yamagata had a masterpiece.

These also utilize the very waste materials of woodwork products. Konosu's red product was designated as an intangible cultural property for the first time in the local toy world, but it is a pity that its prestigious business was closed at that time and it was made by another author. (Ise's red goods were also closed in 2017 (> _ <))

The paste is easily eaten by insects, and the old ones have become squishy and do not remain.

Compared to clay dolls, it is difficult to make, so even in 1975, there were only about 20 dolls nationwide.

In contrast to Kokeshi dolls in Tohoku, there are toys with cars called Kijiri (Kojiri) and Kijima in Kyushu. These are the toys that the lumberjack gave to his child. It seems that the lumberjack children were riding on this and sliding on the slopes of the mountain.

Similarly, Kochi's whale cars and boats have changed from toys made and given to children waiting to return home to local toys.

The votive tablet is also made of wood. For local toys, we collect small votive tablets and votive tablets made by votive tablets. There are also bullfinch and tops.

In recent years, the topic of discussion is the peasant art doll (called farm beauty).

A wood carving product advocated by the painter Kanae Yamamoto before the war. Guidance was given to improve farmers' hobbies and promote side businesses, and spread to rural areas in various regions. In particular, the collection of wood carving dolls (also called wood-end dolls) has recently become a boom and is becoming more expensive. It used to be a tourist souvenir.

But this is not called a local toy!

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page