Toto-Awase is a memory game in which the players have to match two cards to create a complete fish illustration and the kanji character that represents the name of the fish. Each card also has a brief description of the fish depicted. These fish are all familiar species in Japan and their illustrations have been beautifully done with colorful paper patterns. The game was created by Toto Koubou in Tango Uocchikan Aquarium, located in Miyazu City, Kyoto.
Since its début on the market in the Spring of 2003, Toto-Awase, with its beautiful illustrations, has gained popularity. The game has the added benefit for children of teaching them the various fish species and their respective kanji characters. The total sale of Toto-Awase games has now exceeded 100,000. The game received a Good Design Award in 2005 and a Good Toy Award in 2006. Currently there are eleven different sets of the memory game according to different regions. The illustrations are elaborate collages with colorful papers of traditional patterns and the box containing the cards is decorated in vermillion and ultramarine - the quintessential colors of Japan. An English version is also made under the name “Card Game Sushi Bar” and it is popular as a souvenir for people to bring abroad.
Fukushima kokeshi dolls are a unique handicraft of Fukushima Prefecture.
A kokeshi is a wooden doll made on a lathe. Its history dates back to the end of the Edo period and it was first sold as a souvenir to tourists visiting hot springs in the Tohoku region.
Kokeshi dolls lost their popularity as toys in the Taisho period because of the rise of new toys. However, adults began to collect kokeshi as a hobby. There are 10 different kinds of regional kokeshi and the Fukushima one is called 'tsuchiyu'. The main production areas of these kokeshi are Tsuchiyu Hot Spring, Izaka Hot Spring, Dake Hot Spring, Fukushima City and Koriyama City.
The defining features of Fukushima kokeshi are a ring on the head and a red pattern called 'kase' between the forelock and the hair. The body is patterned mainly with lines.
Fukushima kokeshi is a cute traditional handicraft that is more than beautiful.
Quail toy cars known as uzura-guruma are a charactersitic wooden toy made in Fukushima Prefecture.
A quail is a small bird that stands about 20cm tall, has a small head, a round body and a short tail. The black and white speckled pattern on its brown body is its characteristic feature.
A Korean who had immigrated to Iwashiro county in Fukushima Prefecture, founded a temple to commemorate a 100th anniversary. At that time, he developed the quail toy car from spare chunks of wood from a hand axe.
Quail toy cars are also made in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu, and the origin is quite similar; they are also said to have been made by a person from Korea.
Car toys such as these are popular in western Japan in places like Miyazaki, but are rarely seen in eastern Japan. Fukushima has so many kinds of toys as you can see from the fact that it has the quail toy car, although it is in the Tohoku region.
Dating to the Edo period, the quail toy car is a simple toy that has a great sense of fun.
Ryumon Waterfall is located near Ryumonji Temple in Kokonoe, Kusu County, Oita Prefecture. It is 20m tall and 40m wide.
The water of Ryumon Waterfall falls in two stages with a basin in the middle. In summer, many people come to play in the water and slide down the fall on the smooth rocks.
In the Kamakura period, the Chinese monk Rankei Doryu was officially invited to Japan and visited here. He felt that the waterfall was similar to Ryumon Waterfall in Kanan and named it Ryumon. Moreover, he founded a temple and named it Mt Kichijo Ryumonji Temple.
According to legend, a huge snake lives in the waterfall and during thunderstorm appears and winds itself around the Niomon gateway of Taiheiji Temple.
Nearby are the Ryumon Hot Springs.
The symmetry of the waterfall is especially beautiful and the area is a well-known site for viewing fall scenery. Ryumon Waterfall is a popular playground for children as well as a beauty spot.
Miharu-goma horse toys are part of a traditional wooden-toy craftmaking tradition in Miharu, Tamura district, Fukushima prefecture. Miharu-goma, along with Yawata-goma of Aomori prefecture and Kinoshita-goma of Miyagi prefecture, are known as the three best wooden horse toys of Japan.
Wooden horse toys were first made following a legend that a wooden horse had appeared to help the Heian shogun, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, in a close battle with Emishi.
These toy horses come in two basic body colors, white or black, while the whip, saddle and accessories are painted in red, black, gold and purple.
These toy horses express the love the Miharu people have for horses. Miharu has traditionally been a horse-breeding area.
The wooden horses consist of two basic carved pieces that fit perfectly together using joints and notches. Several accessories are added to show the dynamism of the horse. When the white and black horse are placed together they are extremely cute. There is a Miharu wooden horse decorating the finishing post of the Fukushima racecourse.