NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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とやま土人形 Toyama-tuchiningyo Toyama Clay Dolls

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The craft of clay doll-making (tsuchi ningyo) in Toyama is a traditional handicraft from the Edo period. The round shape and lovable, naïve expressions on the doll faces are simply adorable.

The history of the Toyama clay dolls dates back some 150 years to the period 1848-54. It is believed that the clay dolls originated when Maeda Toshiyasu, the 10th Han (feudal lord) of Toyama invited Hirose Hidenobu, a potter from Nagoya prefecture, to work for him. Using a kiln he had made for the Chitose Palace, Hidenobu created a kind of pottery--the forerunner of Chitose-yaki (Chitose ware), and the Tenhin Gagyuu as presents for the Maeda clan.

By the end of the Edo Period, the style and shape of the dolls had developed and became more elaborate. This form later became a lucky charm and a children's toy that would be cherished by the public.

At that time, there were many stores at the foot of the castle that were making clay dolls. Only one of them is still in business today: Nobuhide San of the house of Watanabe, who inherited the techniques of clay doll-making from the house of Hirose.

In order to keep the doll-making tradition alive and vibrant, Toyama city itself is making efforts to train people to learn the craft at special associations.
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