- Toys when there were no computer games.
- Let’s take one and play!
- The Rabbit who makes rice cakes.
- Ushiwakamaru and Benkei
Toys when there were no computer games.
What did you play with when you were a child? When I was young, I remember playing with marbles and a kaleidoscope. These toys are less seen nowadays, because of the Internet and new trends. What do you imagine children played with, 320 years ago when there were no video games in Japan?
There are very rare toys from the Edo period (1603 to 1868) exhibited at the Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum.
Let’s take one and play!
The museum is in an old Japanese house, where you can see and even play with, very nostalgic toys. You will need to take off your shoes before entering the museum. You can see the toys exhibited in the tatami floored room, where the staff will explain to you how to play with them. These mechanical toys were played by children at a time when there were no computers. All of these toys are simple and made of bamboo, wood, and Japanese paper. You’ll discover the simplicity of handmade products, hardly ever seen today. So, let’s play with them!
The Rabbit who makes rice cakes.
It is believed in Japan that a rabbit lives inside the moon and it makes rice cakes on a full-moon evening during autumn. This toy represents how the rabbit makes rice cakes. If you pull the wood bar attached to the string, the rabbit moves and makes a rice cake.
Ushiwakamaru and Benkei
Ushiwakamaru and Benkei toys appeared in a legend from the Heian period (794 to 1185). Benkei violently tried to take 1000 swords from samurai on the street and was successful in getting 999 of them. He then met Ushiwakamaru, playing a flute on Kyoto’s Gojo Ohashi bridge. He tried to take his sword but couldn’t, so he surrendered to Ushiwakamaru and became his servant. These toys are made in Nagoya, and still exist today. Ushiwakamaru spins when moving its bamboo arrow and Benkei swings his sword when moving its wood bar.
When you see Buddhist statues around Japan, you’ll notice a halo behind them. This toy represents the Buddhist statue and its halo. If you push the bottom of the box, the Buddha and halo come out of it. If you pull the stick, the Buddha and halo will hide back inside the box. It’s so interesting to see how the halo, made of folded paper, spreads and folds itself. This mechanical toy utilizes soft Japanese paper. There many more interesting toys here, so why not be a child again and go play with these very interesting toys!
7 Inyōchō, Nara city, Nara Prefecture