Edo Society: Toys

Edo Society: Toys
13 records
In Edo society, games were an outlet of fun for adults as well as children. Games adults played included humorous competitions such as the paper-blowing game (kamifuki), in which the aim was to make the opposing player laugh by trying to blow a piece of paper off one’s forehead, and ugly-face contests. Kai-awase was a memory game in which players tried to match an image drawn on the inside of a seashell with its identical mate. Intellectual pursuits included karuta, a card game that tested players’ knowledge of one hundred Japanese poems (waka), and kyokusui, an outdoor game in which a cup of sake was sent floating down a stream; if the player did not compose a poem before the cup reached the bottom of the stream, he had to drink the sake. Naturally, the more he drank, the more difficult it would be to compose a sophisticated poem, and humorous results surely followed.

Toys, more than being simple playthings, were often considered to possess an ability to protect children. Papier-mâché dogs were used as talismans for safe childbirth and the protection of children. Doves or pigeons were believed to prevent children from choking on their food. Because monkeys were thought to repel the demons of disease, mothers sewed small stuffed monkeys onto their children’s clothing.

- Armanda Dingledy-Rodie; Chris Drosse; Hollis Goodall, Managing Curator (2007)