Obake no Kinta or Kinta the Ghost is a folk toy that originated in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture.
The toy consists of a head with a string in the back of it. When the string is pulled, Kinta rolls his big round eyeballs and sticks out his tongue. A bamboo spring is concealed in his head which, when pulled, triggers the eyes and the tongue to move at the same time. Kinta with his red face and a black conical hat makes a striking impression on small children and he often scares them a little. He is a popular toy among adults, however. The most important process in making this toy is the making of the bamboo spring. The quality of this spring determines the quality of the toy.
When Kato Kiyomasa built the Kumamoto Castle, there was a popular foot soldier named Kinta who had a funny face and who was good at making people laugh. He was affectionately called “Clown Kinta”. The Kinta the Ghost toy was said to have been created during the Kanei era (1848 ~ 1853) by a doll maker, Hikoshichi Nishijinya, who started making mechanical toys based on stories about Kinta. Because of his unique action, Kinta the Ghost was also known as the Goggle-eyed Doll.
Toyoma Fall Festival is held on the 3rd weekend of September every year in Toyoma Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. It has been handed down for over 300 years, serving as the annual festival of Toyoma Shrine, which houses the guardian god of the town.
On the eve of the festival on Saturday, archery rituals such as the Hikime ritual to drive away evils by shooting arrows and the Oomato (big target) ceremony are dedicated to the god. From 5:00 in the evening, Toyoma Takigi-Noh (Noh by the light of torches), a prefecturally designated folk cultural property, is performed at Mori Butai, the Noh theater and museum.
On the main festival day on Sunday, the parade of about 13 festival floats, warriors, the beautiful women Yosakoi dancers and Chigo (young children in ancient costumes) go through the town to the music of Toyoma-bayashi played by children. The floats are handmade and pulled by the members of sub-town associations. About 13 floats participate in the parade every year. Each float is decorated with a huge paper-mache doll such as a fierce tiger, a bubbling crab, or the characters from “Journey to the West.” Everyone in town enjoys this biggest event of the fall.
Among Sendai Hariko (papier-mache), a kind of toy made from molded and colored paper, probably the most common item is the Matsukawa Daruma doll. This daruma is colored ultramarine around its face, and the body is decorated with a relief motif of a bringer of good luck such as a treasure ship, the god of wealth, the pine, bamboo and plum trees, Ebisu, a carp swimming up the waterfall, and “Ichi-fuji, ni-taka, san-nasubi (Mt. Fuji at the first, hawk at the second, eggplant at the third).” It is distinctive that real hair is used to make its eyebrows and it has glass-made eyes. This daruma is a long-beloved item as a mascot or a bringer of good luck.
According to one widely-accepted opinion, Matsukawa Daruma was named after Matsukawa Toyonoshin, a retainer of the Date clan and the person who created this daruma about 170 years ago. The daruma dolls were produced by low-ranked warriors of the domain as their side jobs. Different from daruma dolls made in other areas, Matsukawa Daruma has black eyes. According to one opinion, this was because warriors were concerning about their one-eyed lord, Date Masamune.
Matsukawa Daruma was originally made in a much more simple style. It was Takahashi Tokutaro (1830-1913), or the Buddhist sculptor Mentoku II, that improved it into the present gorgeous doll.
Sendai Hariko is a kind of toy made from molded and colored paper, on which patterns such as Oriental Zodiac animals, Fukusuke, or various masks are painted. It is said that this craft was created by a low-ranked warrior of the Sendai domain during the Tenpo era (1830-1844) and its making was widely spread among warriors as their side jobs.
Though technical improvements were made during the Edo period, the making of Sendai Hariko was discontinued in the Meiji period (1868-1912). It was revived by local people in 1921 and has been handed down to the present days.
The most common item of Sendai Hariko is the Matsukawa Daruma doll. The daruma is colored ultramarine around its face, and the body, in strong relief, is decorated with the god of wealth, a treasure ship, and so on. Also, it has eyebrows made of real hair and eyes made of glass. It is loved by people as a bringer of good luck.
Other lovely Hariko such as various kinds of masks and animals are also popular. As they are all hand made, each pieces of Sendai Hariko has gentle warmth and a humorous shape that can’t be created by machines. Maybe this is why they have been loved by people for nearly 200 years
One of Ryukyu's famous toys, the 'hariko', known as the bringer of good luck, is sold at the toy bazaar held on the day of the Yukkanuhi (the fourth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar).
The skills for crafting the hariko were brought here from Japan after the 17th century. The original target for the hariko were children from upper-class families. By the Meiji period, though, the hariko had become a popular and affordable toy for the average child.
Okinawan hariko were influenced by the Ryukyu Kingdom, continental China, and by their own inland cultures. These multiple influences fused in the distinctive shapes and rich colors of the hariko.
Other Ryukyu toys, such as pinwheels made from the leaf of Adan, puppets made from the nut of the Sago palm, and butterfly-shaped kites also show the same subtle charm combined with various influences.
Over the times, plastic and tin toys replaced the popularity of the Ryukyu toys, though each toy still shows expression and tender warmness and is appreciated by many people
Hakota dolls are traditional papier-mache dolls with a history of 300 years. They are made in Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture. Such a limbless cylindrical type of papier-mache doll, similar to a kokeshi doll, is rare in this country, and it is made only in Kurayoshi in the Sannin area.
Hakota doll-making started sometime between 1781 and 1789 (Tenmei period). A peddlar from Bingo (today's Hiroshima Prefecture), whose name was Bingoya Jihei, created the first Hakota doll. He made it because he was moved by the naivety of the girls he met in this area.
Until the early Showa period, these dolls were called 'Ha-ko-san', and were a familiar toy for little girls. Also, these dolls were made as bringers of good luck; a prayer for a child to grow up free from injury and illness.
You can make and decorate your own Hakota doll at Bingoya (the 6th), which continues to this day. What will your 'Ha-ko-san' look like?
Ikkanbari bamboo craft is designated as a traditional handicraft by Kagawa Pref. It is a kind of papier-mâché technique, in which washi paper is pasted on wooden or bamboo frames then coated with persimmon tannin. As Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa Pref.) is a hometown of Kobodaishi Kukai, it is said that the lacquering technique to use persimmon tannin was introduced from China by Kukai. This craft was, however, invented in the 17th century by Hirai Ikkan, a naturalized person from Ming dynasty China. Until plastic was introduced, persimmon tannin was used in many ways such as vessels or base for lacquering. The Ikkanbari product is very strong and durable because of the water-proof and antiseptic property of persimmon tannin. It is subdued in color and has staid gloss. At the present time, items such as baskets, plates and small boxes are being made. Recently Ikkanbari is also favored as the material for Japanese-styled indirect lighting.
Hariko, or Haribote, is a paper-mache made by gluing layers of washi paper. Hariko was introduced to Japan from China in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and Hariko dolls and toys began to be made in castle towns all over the nation in the Edo period (1603-1867), when there was plenty of used washi paper. Hariko making in Himeji started in the early Meiji period, when Tadashichi Toyooka mastered the skills. At the present time, the craft was handed down to his fourth generation descendant, Takashi Matsuo, and his son, who has preserved this traditional handicraft. Himeji Hariko is loved as a bringer of good luck in such occasions as house-framework-raising ceremonies, or local events and festivals. The bright colored Hariko masks and toys are also loved by fanciers of folk toys as room ornaments.