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Examples of Hagoita from Various Provinces
Meiji Period (1868~1912)
Author: Shimizu Seifū

This text is called Examples of Hagoita from Various Provinces.

Fifty cute 7 cm tall model Hagoita, or rectangular wooden paddles, are collected in a paulownia box. The author, Shimizu Seifū, was known as a collector and researcher of toys from various local areas. Seifū produced a collection of illustrations entitled The Child’s Friend (Unai no tomo), in which he depicted the natural beauty of toys and dolls from each province of Japan, though they were not high price art objects. Among literati and cultured people of his age, he was a pioneer in the appreciation of antique and local toys.

Seifū based the model hagoita in this collection on real hagoita from around Japan. Using thin cedar boards cut in the exact shape of hagoita and using pigments, he carefully drew pictures on the hagoita. A small piece of paper labeling the province of origin is attached to each handle.

Many of the hagoita have different pictures on back and front and many of the pictures include auspicious symbols, including pine-bamboo-plum trees, cranes and turtles, the God of Luck, and sunrises. However, most are fairly unsophisticated. The oshi-e, literally “Raised cloth picture,” hagoita have pictures of actors and famous beautiful women made from cloth. The sagichō, literally “Burning of New Year’s Decorations,” hagoita depict the annual burning of New Year’s Decorations on the 15th day of the lunar New Year in the palace to ward off evil. These “Burning of New Year’s Decorations” hagoita have gold leaf and are richly colored. These decorative hagoita were used to reject evil spirits and were kept for their aesthetic value or exchanged as presents.

These beautiful and colorful hagoita contain both a gala spirit welcoming the New Year as well as prayers for the young women of the house to grow up healthfully.