Vintage Japanese Lathe-Turned Spinning Top by Hiroi, Masaaki

Sale price$65.00

Dimensions: 6-1/2”h x 4-1/2”dia.

Hiroi, Masaaki, ((1935-2019) a well-known top maker of Edo-style toys was the first Japanese creator of Spinning Tops (Koma) which began in the 1960, when prior these pieces were only for the Japanese tourists. During this period he was featured in an article entitled: “Edogoma Spin Around the World” when his work began to be noticed throughout Europe. Masaaki’s great-grandfather was a low-ranking court doctor in charge of the emperor’s health, and as a sideline made his livelihood out of his hobby of making koma. This family background introduced Hiroi, a fourth-generation top-maker to this art form that lasted throughout his lifetime.

Masaaki-san created many kinds of tops because of the war which gave him focus, but his Edo tops have a particular way of spinning. He did not create just traditional forms [of tops] but also came up with new technical forms to accentuate a “beautiful” spin. He particularly used wood from Tōhoku which was of high quality complimentary of his competition-type forms. He began to develop a great deal of knowledge about centrifugal force and the locals began to understand the mathematical reasoning behind the tops in everyday play as well as in competitions. The idea that tomorrow he would be able to make even better tops than he did today kept me producing wonderful variations of tops for the rest of his career.

The top being offered is beautifully done and has a vertical handle that stays upright and straight to keep the body from wobbling. When this top continued to spin for a long time Masaaki-san called it “sleeping”. Masaaki felt that the top is always being taught the lesson that “because the axis doesn’t wobble, it tells the user that his/her life is on the right track in their everyday life.” This is a heavy and well-balanced top in which the vertical handle has a metal tip or point on the bottom to facilitate a good spin. It has a perfectly formed crown, (The crown is often the part you hold with your fingers to spin the top shoulder and body). The top is painted in circles of color in deep royal blue and red, and has an excellent “hand” or “touch”. The top is unsigned as with most of his Koma for he felt the top identified the maker.

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Condition: Excellent meaning the piece is perfect, totally original, and complete and functions as intended. No cracks, no breaks, no missing pieces, and retains its wonderful presence and is previously protected and treasured in respect of Masaaki’s workmanship. The artifact meets all the standards of the collectible Vintage Kokeshi toys and tops and without question a unique treasure for the Japanese