NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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会津張子 Aizu-hariko Aizu Papier-Mache

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The craft of 'hariko' (papier-mache) is also called 'harinuki' or 'haribote' and was brought to Japan from China.

During the Muromachi period, papier-mache dog figures were popular among the nobility. By the Edo period, there were many paper-production centers all over Japan. Many kinds of papier-mache toys and good-luck figures were made around Japan, with characteristics unique to each region.

In the Edo period, there was little chance for exchange both within and outside the country, owing to Japan's long period of isolation. So, people produced toys reflecting each region's lifestyle or beliefs.

Papier-mache toys, such as these, have been called 'local toys' since the early Taisho period. Most local toys are to wish for health to a growing child, good luck, prosperity in business or abundant harvest.

It is said that Aizu papier-mache developed as an additional source of income for samurai in the Aizu Domain; the red cow toy is especially famous. There is something lovely about the way these little red cows shake their heads.
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