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Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Toys & Entertainment
Name Kasukabe Oshie Hagoita: Kasukabe's battledore with a padded cloth picture

Main Production Site:Saitama

"Oshie Hagoita" is a battledore made of Kiri, paulownia wood, decorated with Oshie , a beautiful padded cloth picture. (Usually a hagoita, battledore, is used for a badminton-like game with a shuttlecock. However, a colorfully ornamented hagoita like Oshie Hagoita is primarily for the decoration in the house during the New Year's festivities.)

Oshie, a padded cloth picture, is a technique to cover a cardboard with habutae silk cloths and raise it with the cotton inside. Oshie craftsmen recreate dynamic and energetic poses on a battledore, such as a swaggering posture that a kabuki (Japanese traditional performance art) actor is striking, by changing the amount of cotton to put inside and the ways they wrap the cotton, as well as using different techniques to arrange the cloths.

Oshie Hagoita in Kasukabe is all hand-made. Kasukabe Oshie Hagoita requires about 200 different processes, using 50 to 70 materials. Hagoita with a picture/design of a man is called Otoko-mono and is displayed as a lucky charm to survive the recession, whereas one with a picture/design of a woman is called Onna-mono and is displayed to celebrate the time of the year.

[Traditional Craft Designated by Saitama Prefectural Governor]
Information provided by Kasukabe Hagoita Association, Kasukabe Local Specialty Council

Translation by: Mie Nakajima, reviewed by Moe Shoji

Materials Wooden board (Kiri, paulownia wood), cardboard, cloths, cotton
Crafting Processes 1. Preliminary Sketch
A painter sketches a figure in the frame of a wooden board. This functions as a blueprint of the hagoita. Many designs are modeled after famous scenes of kabuki plays, and most beautiful manners of kabuki actors and the climactic scenes are usually favored as a design.

2. Making a Model
The sketch is placed on the cardboard to mark its lines with a tracing spatula. Margins for gluing have to be reserved on the outline of each pattern.

3. Cutting Patterns
The cardboard patterns are traced on a pasteboard. The parts include sleeves and obi (a broad sash) of kimono (Japanese traditional clothes),
the head of the figure, and props. Once they are traced, they are cut with scissors.

4. Cutting Fabrics (Nuno-tori)
The pasteboard pieces are placed on each fabric to cut out a piece which is a little larger than the pattern.

5. Wrapping the Cotton (Kurumi)
Cotton is inserted between the cloths and the pasteboard piece to raise the pattern. Once the cotton is wrapped by a fabric, the edges are glued and the shape is smoothed with a utensil . This makes one piece of overall pattern for Oshie.

6. Construction
Each piece of pattern is carefully positioned on the sketch of the wooden board one by one. Pieces of Washi paper (Japanese handmade paper) and glue are used to secure the design on the back side of the patterns, reinforcing the construction.

7. Setting the Hairstyle (Suga-ue)
Raw silk dyed in black, called Suga, is used to represent the hair. Suga is secured on suga-shita (the base of the hair) with glue, softening the impression of the hair.

8. Wrapping the Handgrip with Cloth (Tsuka-maki)
The handgrip (tsuka) is wrapped with relatively thick fabric. The end is fastened on the back side of the grip. This is to make the hagoita easier to handle and look more beautiful.

9. Background
The background is an important part of the design although it is hidden behind Oshie. The contrast of the colors and the character selected for Oshie should be taken into consideration. The background arrangement affects the overall impression of Oshie.

10. Fixing the Oshie on the board
Firstly, the background is attached on the wooden board which has a painting on the back. Then, Oshie is fixed on it by driving brass nails with a small hammer. Finally, the ornaments and hand properties for the character are attached and the hagoita is complete.
History A well-known story goes that"Hanetsuki"(battledore and shuttlecock) originated in China, not in Japan. In the 14th-century China, people played a game of keeping a shuttlecock weighed with coins in the air, which was imported to Japan in Muromachi period (14-16c). This is considered to be the origin of "Hanetsuki".

Although"Hanetsuki"used to be played by girls at the New Year's time, it was originally related to the New Year's rituals. Hagoita was also called kogiita or kokinoko ("gi" and "ki" in these words mean an ogre or a demon) and people prayed for health and safety in the coming year by attacking ogres (ogres symbolize the evil) with it.

The history of "Kasukabe Oshie Hagoita" traces back to the time of the World War II, when Oshie craftsmen in Asakusa (one of the traditional shopping, entertainment, and residential districts of Tokyo) moved to Kasukabe, which is known as the production site for fine paulownia wood, avoiding war disasters and chaos of the city.

◆Exhibition / Showcase
Saitama Craft Center
Address: 1220 Ogawa, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama
Telephone: +81-(0)493-72-1220 (Japanese Only)
Opening hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm

◆Event Information
Kasukabe Oshie Hagoita and Specialty Festival
Venue: Kasukabe Station (East exit)
Date: End of December (annual event)

High-class craftworks carefully made by artisans will be available.
It is also a rare opportunity for you to purchase the craftworks direc
tly from the makers.

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