Tanuki Spinning Top

Rare Vintage Japanese Ten Piece Tanuki Spinning Top | Badger | Tanuki Koma


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 5-1/4”h x 2-5/*” w 4-3/4”l

At a glance, this piece appears to be an ordinary Tanuki wooden figurine. It actually is a “Hikoichi” top from Kamamoto Prefecture of Japan. This three-dimensional figure depicts a Japanese Tanuki or Badger has great character with expressive eyes, and is wearing a Hachimaki on his head, (“helmet-scarf”), which is a stylized red and white headband. He is in fact a sort of early "transformer", (Tunuki's were know to disguise themselves and change form), and has an umbrella top over his head, a bushy top tail, with four legs that are tops, and a two piece body in the shape of a teapot, with its handle, (tip), to facilitate spinning. The figure sits on a stand which is also a spinning top. Each component is beautifully balanced to facilitate spinning. The entire piece is make of solid carved walnut. The top is unsigned which is typical of toys of the period. This is a “true” find for the Koma collector and one never seen by this seller. The piece comes in its original kiriwood box.

Vintage Condition: Excellent condition, retaining a beautiful wood finish, having exceptional balance and a good sense of proportion, color and detail. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear or structural damage is note.

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

THE TANUKI FOLKLORE — Hikoichi tops, folk toy 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 it was 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 house 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