Tsuyama Dolls


Dolls from Tsuyama / 津山の姫達磨や奴だるま

Yakko Daruma and Flower Viewing in Tsuyama

First let me explain what YAKKO 奴 means. The word "yakko" in this context refers to halberd-bearers of a Daimyoo Lord in the Edo period. Servants attached to a daimyoo or hatamoto were often called "Yakko", in reference to the use of this word in the Nara period, meaning slaves or personal servants. Sometimes these yakko formed their own groups of rowdies, growing large beards, looking fierce and wearing outlandish garments, much like the young people in Harajuku today. The city of Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture, is featuring a festival in autumn, where a parade of these yakko walks through the town, performing sporty throws and catches with the long halberds (yakko gyooretsu).

The little Yakko Daruma Dolls of Tsuyama city are made in rememberance of this parade. This tradition started one generation ago at the local Folk Art Store, but was interrupted when the doll maker, who produced little clay bells (dorei 土鈴) with a Yakko Daruma face painted on it, passed away. Now it is revived in a little different form and again we can enjoy the funny face of the Yakko Daruma.
This year the cherry blossoms where early and the castle park of Tsuyama was all in a pink cloud! This vast area is one of the three best places for Cherry Blossom Viewing (hanami 花見) in Western Japan, a favorite passtime of this season. Have a look at the following HP of Tsuyama City to get an idea of these beautiful places. This is Kakusan Park, where the remains of Tsuyama Castle come to life during Flower Viewing Season.

. My Tsuyama Hanami Cherry Blossom time 2007

. My Tsuyama Hanami Cherry Blossom time 2008  

. My Tsuyama Hanami Cherry Blossom time 2009  


At the local souvenir store I found three new Daruma dolls.

First a little Yakko Daruma in the form of a little bag filled with beans for small children to throw and catch (tedama 手玉), the head a white paper ball with a very individual face, so just making my pick was a joy. He wears a purple dress and carries a halberd, but there was another type with blue dress. Look at the funny little guy:

Very similar dolls are made by another maker, where I got these two a while ago.  

Number two are little clay bells with a yakko face painted on it (dorei 土鈴).

This little bell is produced at the following place:
セノオ民芸社 TEL 08688-22-4532
Senoo Mingei Sha (Senoo Folk Art Company) And displayed and sold at the following place: 作州ふるさと観光センター  
TEL0868-22-3310 Sakushu Furusato Kankoo Center

Number three is a little Princess Daruma (Hime Daruma 姫達磨) made of white clay (tsuchiningyoo 土人形). She is very heavy, comes in three sizes, with a lot of pink flowers on her dress and real goldleaf foil on both sides. She is really a gorgeous little princess.。

As we climbed up the many stone stairs to the top of the castle walls, the view was so pretty and the sunshine so warm, I unpacked my three new friends and let them have a little hanami too.

Let us part this time with a little Haiku which I made during this years pretty Hanami excursion. By the way, I live only a 40 minutes drive away from this beautiful park.:

津山にて奴だるまの 花見かな 

Here we are in Tsuyama!  
Even the Yakko Daruma   
Can enjoy their Hanami!  


Now let us talk about YAKKO Daruma in Japanese folkart a little more.
Maybe the most famous are the dolls made of laquer from Oouchi in Yamaguchi Prefecture. They are made from local wood, covered with tree laquer (本漆) and decorated with goldleaf foil. A lot of dolls and other pieces are made in this way, so have a look at the following Yakko Daruma.

Yakko Daruma / 奴だるま

. . . . .

. Tsuyama Fukumusubi Dolls 福結びの人形


Sakushu Mingeikan 作州民芸館
Folk Museum in Tsuyama

Look here for some photos of an ancient building turned museum.
source : sakushumingeikan


. Okayama Folk Toys - 岡山県 .


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