Photo/IllutrationShigeyoshi Inoue holds up a folk toy modeled after a festival float from Banshu province at his Japan Toy Museum in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. (The Asahi Shimbun)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--Charming folk toys associated with festivals across the country are being celebrated in their own right at the Japan Toy Museum here.

The “Japanese Festival Through Folk Toys” exhibition is running until Nov. 14 to coincide with the fall festival season. Featuring miniature floats from former Banshu province (in present-day Hyogo Prefecture) and other parts of the country, the exhibition offers an insight into the characteristics of each area.

The museum boasts more than 3,000 items in its festival toy collection. Of these, about 350 pieces including those from the early Showa Era (1926-1989) are on display, grouped by region including Kinki, Tohoku, Kanto and Kyushu.

“By arranging them by region, I think visitors can understand how the decorative ‘futon’ mattresses for floats, the design of the rooftops and other details have changed little by little as they spread to each region,” said museum director Shigeyoshi Inoue.

Festival-themed folk toys from the Kansai region, including “yamahoko” floats from Kyoto’s Gion Festival and “futon daiko” drum stands from Osaka, are showcased.

Also featured are floats from the festival at Nagoya Toshogu shrine and from the Nagasaki Kunchi festival referred to as “the spouting of a whale.”

As for Banshu province, floats from Himeji and Takasago, in addition to a Himeji-style “hariko” papier-mache mask of “oni” demon, are on display.

Many of the folk toys had been sold at festival stalls and souvenir shops.

The museum is closed on Wednesdays. Admission is 600 yen ($5.30) for adults, 400 yen for college and high school students and 200 yen for children aged 4 or older.

Visit the museum’s official website at (http://www.japan-toy-museum.org/english/eindex.htm).