Condition: Excellent

Vintage Japanese Spring Action Folk Toy | “Rice Eating Mouse — Komekui Nezumi” | 1960

This piece, called a “Rice-eating mouse – Komekui Nezumi” is a handmade spring action folk toy which gave inspiration to the development of the now famous anime, (Anime began at the start of the 20th century when Japanese filmmakers experimented with animation techniques which is now a major at most universities around the world). This toy is made of dark stained Kiri (Paulownia) wood, and has a bamboo spring, (reinforced in the middle of the spring for added strength), that is attached to the mouse and base, which acts like a mechanical spring to give the mouse its motion. When the bamboo bow is pressed the head and the tail of the mouse dip down which causes the mouse to look like it is “eating rice” from a small, red topped dish fashioned from bamboo.

These animated figures were originally made by lower ranking Samurai of the Kaga region, (presently referred to as the Ishikawa prefecture), to supplement their income and for which they adopted the ideas and designs from the popular and antique Karakuri dolls (Karakuri-zui of the Edo period). Included in this offering is an original uncancelled stamp, in a hand formed brass frame which was produced  in 1960, (the Year of the Rat), when this specific toy was adopted as the New Year Stamp Design from a Nationwide competition hosted by the Japanese Postal Service.

There is a paper stamp on the bottom of this wonderfully crafted piece that refers to the “Edo Nishiki,” in 1773 which illustrates numerous animated animals of this type. The piece is in its original excellent and in working condition. Age: Pre-1960’s. Dimensions: 3-½”d x 2-1/2”w x 3-1/4”h.

Additional Information —

In 1830, (Tempo era), there was a great famine in Japan, due to the failure of the rice crop which is Japan’s food staple. This little mouse eating rice was a humorous if not a sad caricature of lean times. The mouse/rat is the first animal listed in the Asian Zodiac, and considered a very auspicious symbol. Nezumi, refers to either rodent who were considered a constant companion of Daikoku, the lucky god who brings out the riches of the land by striking the ground with his magic mallet.

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