Kiji-toys are wooden toys that woodturners created using a spinning lathe. Various other types of Kiji-toys have been made all over Japan since early on, except for Kokeshi, which is unique to the Tohoku region. Tohoku woodturners produced Kiji-toys that required advanced techniques. They started to create toys that suited the cultural climate of the region.
During the late Edo to the Meiji periods, the Kiji-toys in Tohoku were simple. Items such as Ejiko (a basket for babies), pacifiers, water pots, and mortars reflected the region’s character. Different kinds of toys from other areas started to emerge after the Tohoku Railway Line opened in 1887. They influenced the Tohoku woodturners to create new types of Kiji-toys, such as wheeled toys, musical instruments, spinning tops, and the Seven Gods of Good Fortune.
These rustic toys were sold as souvenirs at hot spring facilities. They have a natural warmth that toys manufactured in factories do not have. Kiji-toys convey the woodturners’ hope to make children happy.