Shika koro-koro, a long-selling product in Nara. That’s a good gift for children.

As food products, Nara Prefecture is famous for Kakinoha-zushi, or Pressed sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves, and Narazuke, or Gourd pickles seasoned in sake lees. Nara is also known as a production area for luxury hemp fabric called Nara-sarashi and socks. There are about 150 manufacturers of socks in Nara Prefecture.
Shika koro-koro is also a long-selling product and a great gift for children.

2016-12-02   Goods, Nara,

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Deer that blend with the view of Nara city

When you walk around Nara Park in Nara city you will see a lot of deer. You might see deer crossing the crosswalk beside you and walking among tourists as if they’re everyday commuters.
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There are more than 1,000 wild deer in and around Nara Park. These deer are designated as Precious Natural Treasures of the State. There are traffic signs saying, ‘be careful of the deer leaping out into the road’.
It is said that the act of killing deer was met with the death penalty in the past (Hurting deer is still subject to penalties today). Deer around here are not just animals, they are believed to be messengers from the gods of Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. Deer and humans have coexisted for 1300 years in this area. They are mascot-like beings in Nara Prefecture.

See the previous article ‘Interacting with “wild deer” in Nara’

Colorful and cute vinyl deer.

Do you know Shika koro-koro? This is a toy for children sold at souvenir shops in Nara. Some people also call it a ‘vinyl deer’ or ‘walking deer’.

The air valve at the bottom of the deer
The air valve at the bottom of the deer

It has an air valve on its bottom. It also has small wheels under its body, so children can walk with the deer by pulling its string. ‘Koro-koro’ is a Japanese imitative word expressing the sound of rolling wheels. This deer has a polka-dotted pattern all over its body. Nara is written in Chinese characters (奈良) at its neck with a small bell.

A bell at the neck of the toy deer
A bell at the neck of the toy deer

Most Shika koro-koro are red, pink, and blue, but you’ll also see them in brown, yellow, and green. I am not sure when this toy was first produced, but I know that it was around 1955 at a souvenir shop in Todaiji-temple. This adorable toy has attracted tourists for more than 60 years here. Living in Nara, I have seen foreign tourists with their children walking around with this toy quite often.

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When you pass in front of souvenir shops, you’ll see Shika koro-koro hanging at their entrances.
The scenery is an indispensable part of Nara city, like the deer in Nara Park. This toy seems to play a significant role as an eye-catching product.
This shika koro-koro can be a solid example of simple daily life in Nara city.

You can purchase this toy for around 1,000 yen. When you’re talking Nara city, you’re talking deer. How about getting a shika koro-koro for souvenir for your children?

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.