The simple shapes and beautiful harmony of colors is what attracts us to Koma, a traditional Japanese game toy. The spinning top was a folk craft used as a toy, but also a traditional art perfected by the Japanese. As a kind of quip, the elegant spinning motion of the toy symbolizes “circulation of money” ”smooth work”, and “being quick-witted”.
Historically, it was in the Nara period that tops came into existence in Japan. It is said that they came to Japan through the Korean Peninsula, or perhaps appeared spontaneously in Japan. It is said that fortune-tellers called “koma-byoushi” told fortunes by circulating spinning tops in ceremonies held by the court.
There are many kinds of tops in Japan. Tops popular in the Edo period traditionally had five colors. Each of them has its own meaning; red represents health, black- power, yellow- wealth, green- harvest, and purple- nobility. They vary in color, shape, and size, depending on the region they come from, and all have unique characteristics.
Jindai Koma Top | Sadohara region Miyazaki prefecture
Typically had the crest of the lords of Shimazu. It is an old toy (Edo period – 1603-1867), with several other names.
Humming Bamboo Koma
“That which had a hole in it” which clearly refers to the tops with a slip that makes a sound of whirling, (Unnari).
Tougatta Hand Twist Koma | Hiroi, Masaaki | 1935
Tougatta Ball Game of Luck | Sato, Masahiro | 1868
Daruma Spinning Top Set | Kakizawa, Korenobu
These four top sets (above) rest on the edge of the base when stopped, or turn to tell a fortune, and are typically used for gambling games.
NOTE: Our antique/vintage pieces are identified/described and professionally photographed, and considered, “as is”, therefore all sales are final. An item may be returned for a refund only if the condition or materials were inaccurately represented, for which the buyer must notify us within three (3) days of the receipt of the item with justification. If an item is approved for return it must be returned only after receiving prior authorization. Any item that has been damaged, or altered in any way by the purchaser, will not be accepted for a refund.