Oyama Top: A Traditional Toy and Good-Luck Charm Made from Real Wood!
Their chunky shafts and substantial shape give a sense of how stable these tops are. Their vibrant pottery wheel patterns come in a variety of colors, like indigo, red, and green. Well-known as souvenirs from Ohyama Afuri Shrine, Oyama Koma tops are traditional folk toys much-loved for their simple handmade beauty.
The Japanese word for the verb "to go around" is "mawaru," which can also mean "to go well." Spinning tops are thus associated with good fortune, and are often kept as good-luck charms, as having one around can point to life "going well" and financial fortune "following you around."
Oyama tops first appeared in the mid-Edo period, around the 18th–19th century. Originally, they were made with wood from the giant dogwood trees that grew on Mount Oyama. After the wood had been dried in the sun for about three months, it had to be dried in the shade for another four months before it could be used. Thus, Oyama tops were made at a fairly relaxed pace.
Yoshinobu Kaneko is the eighth-generation proprietor of Kanekoya, a shop on the road that leads to Ohyama Afuri Shrine. From the cutting to the coloring, he makes every top by hand, with the greatest of care. If you happen to stop by at the right time, you might even get to witness the tops being made in the workshop.
A rare peek at the top-making process!
Inside the shop are rows of 15 kinds of tops, from extra-large tops 12 centimeters in diameter, to 3-millimeter mini tops. Every top sold here is made by hand, with the shape and color balance varying ever-so-slightly from one to the next.
This strap with miniature decorations was inspired by the ancient Japanese saying "a horse from a gourd," or, in this case, "a top from a gourd," meant to denote an unexpected and miraculous occurrence. Open the gourd, and you will find a miniature top. Amazingly, even this tiny top spins really well!
"Please come to my store and ask about Oyama tops, so that you can feel for yourself the warmth that comes from the grain of the wood, what they feel like in your hands, and how big they are," says Mr. Kaneko.
Please do take them in your hands, and take all the time you need to choose the top you like best.
Located on the Oyama Cable Koma Sando, this shop deals in a wide range of souvenirs from the Oyama pilgrimage including Oyama tops. They also have a cafe space offering refreshments that's perfect for a break during your visit. You can watch them producing Oyama tops at the shop.
Address585 Oyama, Isehara City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Business Hour8:00-17:00 (irregular holidays)
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