Tops – Koma Tops – Koma

Tops – Koma

Yajirou Containers with mini Tops

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.

Artisan | Interactive Toymaker:  Katakura, Tomio | 1936- Artisan | Interactive Toymaker:  Katakura, Tomio | 1936-

Artisan | Interactive Toymaker: Katakura, Tomio | 1936-

Katakura-san’s specialization was the popular “squeaking child” dolls and toys, which are made of two pieces, with the head being attached to the body via a snap-in projection, allowing it to be turned, thus making the squeak. The bangs, set wide apart, are the definitive feature of the heads. His toys are very balanced, spin beautifully, and typically have paintings of chrysanthemum.

Origin:

Katakura-san is a traditional Narugo toy maker who focused on spinning tops, (Koma), and who studied under master Onuma, Chikara. They originally came from Narugo Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture.

Zuguri Koma Zuguri Koma

Zuguri Koma

The set of tops shown above have round bottoms for playing in the snow.

Sasebo “Fighting Spelling” Competition Top Sasebo “Fighting Spelling” Competition Top

Sasebo “Fighting Spelling” Competition Top

This large top is from the Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture and one of a variety of tops often used in prestigious top-fighting contests. Characteristics are the egg shape, and the lathe grooved bands decorated in red, green, yellow and black. Usually they are made of camellia wood and oak. Tops with wooden bases are generally used during tournaments and for display.

Gaming Presentation Top | 1970 Gaming Presentation Top | 1970

Gaming Presentation Top | 1970

Measures 6-0” x 18-0”dia. is both a working top and one used for exhibition.

Sakumani Top | Hiraga Kenichi Sakumani Top | Hiraga Kenichi

Sakumani Top | Hiraga Kenichi

Sumo Wrestlers on Dohyou | Hiroi Masaaki | 1935 Sumo Wrestlers on Dohyou | Hiroi Masaaki | 1935

Sumo Wrestlers on Dohyou | Hiroi Masaaki | 1935

Zodiac Koma | "Snake" Zodiac Koma | "Snake"

Zodiac Koma | "Snake"

Sakadachi Koma | Four Upside-Down Tops | 1980 Sakadachi Koma | Four Upside-Down Tops | 1980

Sakadachi Koma | Four Upside-Down Tops | 1980

Ohita (Prefecture) Ume Fighting Top The “Wart” type top | Taniguchi Kisaburo | 1970 Ohita (Prefecture) Ume Fighting Top The “Wart” type top | Taniguchi Kisaburo | 1970

Ohita (Prefecture) Ume Fighting Top The “Wart” type top | Taniguchi Kisaburo | 1970

Self-Containing Wooden Koma Top | 1960 Self-Containing Wooden Koma Top | 1960

Self-Containing Wooden Koma Top | 1960

Birikan’na Tops Birikan’na Tops

Birikan’na Tops

Harmonic Chattering works on the end-grain of hardwoods, (maple, cherry, walnut and rosewood), which is the only wood to withstand the force of the chatter tool.

“Thunder God” | Raijin Dice Kaminaru, Sama | 1980 “Thunder God” | Raijin Dice Kaminaru, Sama | 1980

“Thunder God” | Raijin Dice Kaminaru, Sama | 1980

Edo Goma Game | Hirai Family | 1970 Edo Goma Game | Hirai Family | 1970

Edo Goma Game | Hirai Family | 1970

Dice Game Top | Mamoru, Tsuta | 1940 Dice Game Top | Mamoru, Tsuta | 1940

Dice Game Top | Mamoru, Tsuta | 1940

Daruma Spinning Top Set | Kakizawa, Korenobu Daruma Spinning Top Set | Kakizawa, Korenobu

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.

Tougatta Ball Game of Luck | Sato, Masahiro | 1868 Tougatta Ball Game of Luck | Sato, Masahiro | 1868

Tougatta Ball Game of Luck | Sato, Masahiro | 1868

Tougatta Hand Twist Koma | Hiroi, Masaaki | 1935 Tougatta Hand Twist Koma | Hiroi, Masaaki | 1935

Tougatta Hand Twist Koma | Hiroi, Masaaki | 1935



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).

Jindai Koma Top | Sadohara region  Miyazaki prefecture Jindai Koma Top | Sadohara region  Miyazaki prefecture

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.