"In the olden days, mothers in the Aomori Prefecture made their infants play with clay whistles, in the belief that the whistles prevented children’s hysteria. Toy makers therefore came up with many kinds of clay whistles. The most famous and beautiful variety is the pigeon whistle."
"At one time the Tokyo area was a vast plain. There was an abundance of pampas grass and the hooting of horned owls could be heard. Both the materials and models for this toy were plentiful then, but the Tokyo of today has become an entirely different place."
"Tengu, a mythical creature, has the appearance of a human being. He lives deep in the forest and has the power of flying through the sky. In some parts of the country, the Tengu nose is considered a phallic symbol."
This character, clad in a bizarre costume, was one of the ‘supermen’ with Herculean strength who befriended the weak and chastised the wicked in the bygone Tokugawa Period. They were greatly respected by the townsmen who were often oppressed during the feudal days.
In a household with a baby boy, a doll representing a brave soldier or the legendary Kitaro of superhuman strength is placed on a boat. In the case of a baby girl, it would be a doll musician or a beautiful dancer. Prayers are then offered at the shrine where the guardian deity of that district is enshrined so that a boy will grow up to be a strong and splendid person, and a girl into a beautiful and talented woman.
The word Hannya, derived from Sanscrit, originally meant wisdom. During the passage of centuries, however, Hannya somehow came to mean an ogress with a horrible face. The Noh mask for Hannya (Prajna) has a horrible aspect and is the mask of an ogress who has gone mad due to jealousy or rancor.
"Daruma is the Japanese name of Dharma, a renowned Indian priest who lived about 1,500 years ago. In later life he went to China and founded the Zen sect, one of the sects of Buddhism. The Daruma dolls eyes are left blank at first. When a wish is made, one eye is given a pupil, and when the wish is granted, the remaining pupil is filled in."
"it is believed that those who possess this fan from the Toshodai Temple in Nara will be protected from fire and sickness. Farmers will enjoy abundant crops. Easy childbirth is assured for pregnant women."
"This charm is said to have been introduced into the country with Buddhism from the continent. The Somin-Shorai charm of represents the male sex organ and is said to ensure a prosperous line of decendants on being placed in the household shrine or altar."
This pair of male and female deities is hung on vessels in order to pray for a safe voyage or a for a big catch of fish. After rubbing one’s body with the Fundama-Sama dolls in the belief that they will take away sickness or bad luck, a person may also cast them into a river or sea.
"In the past, the boy and girl dolls were placed on a small shelf in the toilet and assumed the role of warding off ‘impurity.’ When a person died, the dolls were placed in the coffin against other deaths occuring. Childless women were also offered these dolls to the deity as they prayed for fertility."
"In the past this was a talisman to insure that good seeds for agricultural products would be bestowed by the God of Agriculture at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka. During the passage of time, it came to be considered effective for ‘human seed’, that is to say, it was transformed into a charm for fecundity."
“'A long time ago, in Takamatsu, there lived a little girl named Omaki. Her home was poor, so she was sent out to become a servant in the mansion of a local samurai. At the mansion she served the daughter of the house, but this little mistress was afflicted with an incurable disease. Omaki, felling sorry for the maiden, caused the disease to be transferred to her own body instead, and was then sent away to some far-off island in order to prevent the disease's contagion to others.'
Ever since then, whenever a village child in Shikoku comes down with an illness, a doll called Hoko-San (servant) is put into bed with the sick child for one night and then floated away on the ocean the following morning, as a rite to bring about the child’s recovery from the illness.”
"It is believed that if this toy dog is placed beside an expectant mother’s pillow, childbirth will be easy. If a small basket is placed over the Inu-Hariko, it will stop a baby’s crying at night or prevent thte baby from having a stuffed-up nose."
"Worshippers at a Tokyo shrine purchase a set of two foxes. The standing fox is offered, together with one’s prayers, to the shrine as a messenger for the fulfilment of one’s wish. When the wish is granted, the seated fox is offered as an expression of gratitude."
"Every year on the night of January 7 the Tsuina Festival is held at the Dazaifu Shrine in Kyushu. Worshippers purchase a wooden Uso (bullfinch) outside the gates of the shrine, and then enter the precincts. In the dark, they make a mutual exhange of Uso with whomever they happen to meet. The Uso is regarded as a charm against fire."
"The Mikoshi is dedicated to the god of Yasaka Shrine and is one of the so-called Kenka-Mikoshi or ‘fighting shrine’ which engages two other Mikoshi in an energetic fight in which the three Mikoshi are slammed into each other by the carriers."
"One possible origin of this doll is that it is related to the household god that had wide belief in the Tohoku region from long in the past. Another possibility is that it may be a modified version of phallic symbols derived from an ancient sex worship."
“‘To try to catch a catfish with a gourd’ is an expression for attempting the impossible. A gourd has a small opening and its shape is uneven, making it difficult to put anything into it, while a catfish is slippery and difficult to cach.”
Miharu Shrine began to make tiny wooden horses patterned after General Tamura-maro’s unexpected gift of one hundred saddled horses. This small toy is sold at the shrine as a charm to insure the healthy growth of a child.
"The toy is made up of a pair of deer on the back of each of which is perched a small child-monkey. The combination of monkey and deer may have been suggested by the fact that Miyajima once had tame deer and monkeys roving the site."
"In old Japan, the days were named after twelve different animals. There was a belief among merchants that if they bought this folk toy at a shrine once every month, their business would greatly prosper. If someone in the household died or some other calamity occurred, all the ‘cats’ collected until then were disposed of and a brand new start was made."
"Every year when the day of the Doll Festival comes, the people of the Tottori region purchase two sets of these paper dolls, both of which are placed on the Doll Festival display altar. After the festival is over, one of these sets, together with the old set retained from the previous year, is set afloat on a river in a rite that symbolizes the hope that all accidents and bad luck will depart with the discarded dolls."
"The monkey is said to be based on a legend of the goddess Kasuga; and it is believed that if a person possesses one, he will be free from disease and mishap, and the chilldless will be blessed with children."
Doll shows a child holding a bean-jam bun split in two. Taken from a story where a child was asked, “Which do you like better, your Father or your Mother?” In reply, the child broke a bean-jam bun in two and countered with the question, “Which is more delicious?” The doll symbolizes the difficulty of making any comparisons between fatherly love and motherly love.