Japanese Vintage Spinning Top

Japanese Traditional Spinning Top of Tanuki The Badger | Vintage Koma



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-1/2”h

This top depicts a Japanese Tanuki or Badger which has a graphic image on his body showing him holding an ever-present sake bottle in one hand, a debit account book in the other hand, and wearing a cone-shaped hat. At a glance, this piece appears to be an ordinary Tanuki wooden figurine but this is a “Hikoichi” top from Kamamoto Prefecture of Japan. There are four working tops making up the Tanuki figurine: the hat, the head, the body, and the base with the tall doubling as an axisThe writing on the front of the charming Tanuki top set reads, “Higo (feudal name of Kumamoto), Hikoichi”. This wood top is not signed.

Vintage Condition: Very good condition with exceptional balance and a good sense of proportion, color, and detail. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is a note.

NOTE: After reading the story below you will understand why the spinning Tanuki top appears to be showing gleeful happiness when Tanuki thought he outsmarted Hikoichi-don.

THE TANUKI FOLKLORE — Hikoichi tops, the folk toys began production immediately after World War II. Just as quickly as they started they began to receive many folk toys awards for their unique design. The piece was created based on the Kumamoto folklore of Hikoichi-don, a man known for his sharp quick wit. He and mischievous shapeshifting Tanuki were always at each other. One day Hikoichi found that his farm field was full of stones and pebbles. Knowing full well that this was the doings of the Tanuki and that the Tanuki was nearby watching his reaction with a gleeful expectation, he said loudly “This is fantastic! Whoever did a huge favor by filling my field with stones because stones are so good for crops that my field won’t need fertilizer for a long time. I am so glad that this was not horse manure because that would ruin my field.” The next day he found that his field was full of horse manure. Of course, he acted really distressed by the sight of horse manure in the field. The legend adds that Hikoichi-don outsmarted Tanuki at every turn that the Tanuki finally surrendered and became Hikoichi-don’s loyal servant. © 2019 — Vermillion Publishing