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Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Toys & Entertainment
Name Jindai-Goma: Jindai Spinning Top

Main Production Site:Miyazaki

The Jindai spinning top is a traditional folk toy which has been produced in Sadowara domain of the Shimazu clan (present day Miyazaki prefecture, Southern Japan) long ago. In the Edo period (17-19c), it is said that the Jindai spinning top was produced by samurai warriors as a side job.

It became popular among the children of samurai warriors. As a charm against evil, the Jindai spinning top later became a popular gift for the Boys Festival held on the fifth of May of each year. At the time of the feudal lords' alternate-year attendance to Edo (present day Tokyo Metropolis), it is said that the Jindai spinning top was an indispensable souvenir from Hyuga province (present day Miyazaki prefecture).

The Jindai spinning top is made from hollow bamboo with round-shaped caps of Japanese cypress on both sides and a bamboo stick at the centre. The small window on the body is called "Unari mado (or a whizzing window)" or "Kazekiri mado (or a wind noise window)". This small window creates a unique whizzing sound when you spin the top. Also, as it has the same shape as the first spinning tops which were introduced in Japan, it is called "Furugata nari goma (or old style whizzing spinning top)" or "Bun goma (or whizzing spinning top)". The Jindai spinning top has a unique dark dun-coloured gloss created by the smoke from burning pine. The crest of the Shimazu clan, the Chinese character "Ju" (十) placed in a circle, is painted on the side of the spinning top.

The tradition and technique of making the Jindai spinning top have been passed down until today. It is a traditional folk toy which is proudly produced in Miyazaki prefecture,

[Designated traditional handcraft of Miyazaki prefecture]
Sponsored by Sadowara-cho Preservation Society of Traditional Craftworks

Translated by Kohei Nishimura, reviewed by Yoshiko Nagao

Materials Bamboo, Japanese cypress, etc.
Crafting Processes Cut bamboo in a round slice. Then make "Unari mado", or a sound making window, which creates the unique whizzing sounds of the Jindai spinning top.

To make the body, cover the hollow part of the bamboo with a precisely cut Japanese cypress. It is wisely devised so that the cypress caps fit tightly in the body by bamboo's natural drying.

Then drill holes on the body and place the stem made of bamboo into the holes. Smoke it with pine tree to create a shiny black body. After drying it for about two months, finally the Jindai spinning top is completed with painting on the body and the stem.
History The Jindai spinning top is a traditional spinning top made from bamboo which makes sounds in spinning. It has the feature of the oldest Japanese spinning tops.

Spinning tops were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty. The spinning top was introduced to Japan, from Goryeo Dynasty in Korea during the Nara period (8c). It initially entertained people in the imperial court. During the Edo period (17-19c), it became widely popular among the common people. Borrowing the name from the Japanese pronunciation of Goryeo Dynasty, spinning tops became to be called "koma" in Japanese.

Toyohisa Shimazu, who was sent to Korea by Hideyoshi Toyotomi as part of the invasions, had brought Goryeo people to Japan (end of 16c). As they lived in Goryeo town in Sadowara domain, the origin of the Jindai spinning top is inarguably relative to the people from the Goryeo Dynasty.

The only colour pattern of the Jindai spinning top's body is ebony black since it utilizes the chemical reaction of the smoke of the pine trees and oozing bamboo oil when smoking. The family crests of those who had ordered the spinning top had been commonly painted before the Showa period (20c). However, it was then unified to the crest of the Shimazu clan, the Chinese character "Ju" (十) placed inside the circle.

◆Exhibition / Showcase
Sadowara-cho Preservation Society of Traditional Craftworks
16251-2, Higashi-Kaminaka, Sadowara town, Miyazaki city, Miyazaki prefecture, 880-0303
Tel +81-985-74-1695 / Fax +81-985-74-1695 (Japanese only)

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