Engi-Mono Exhibition at The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

Good Luck Charms of Edo

Thursday, January 14 through Wednesday, February 17

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 14 from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

Admission: Free

The Nippon Club, with support from the J.C.C. Fund, the Philanthropic Fund of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York, presents a special exhibition, Good Luck Charms of Edo.

These good luck charms, known as engi-mono, grew from the traditional culture of Shitamachi, the shopping, entertainment, and residential districts of Edo, today’s Tokyo. Engi is a term that means all things are connected via en, destiny or fate. Typical engi-mono include the items used to pray for Gokoku Hojou (huge harvest of five grains), Tairyo Tsuifuku (good catch and safety), Shoubai Hanjou (business prosperity), and Kanai Anzen (safety of the family). They also represent other blessings as well as rituals and festive practices.

Raccoon with Abacus: Tanukis are animals in the canine family that look like raccoons. Tanukis are believed to be highly skills at using an abacus and able to flick the beads rapidly in a way described as “making sparks fly,” a metaphor that implies protection from fire.

Rooted deeply in the culture of the common people of Edo era, engi-mono often contain word plays and allow us to sense the sentiments of Edo people and their wish for lasting happiness.

The collection of engi-mono in the exhibition are from Sukeroku, an old-fashioned store specializing in small, Edo-style toys. The store is located on historical Nakamise Street in the Asakusa district. Yoshitaka Kimura, the 5th generation master of Sukeroku, supervised the exhibition, which was curated by Shoko Hayashi.

Virtual Opening Reception and Virtual Seniors New Year Party

Thursday, January 14 from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Yoshitaka Kimura will give a talk where he will introduce a small toy one by one. After his talk, attendees will enjoy a performance of rakugo—traditional Japanese comic storytelling—by the second generation Master Kikuzo Hayashiya.

This opening event is free with the option of donating to The Nippon Club’s bento delivery service for healthcare workers.

The event will be in Japanese, but The Nippon Club will be providing real-time subtitles in English through Wordly.

Attendance is limited to 500 people on a first come, first served basis. To register, please visit www.nipponclub.org or send an email to gallery@nipponclub.org.

Yoshitaka Kimura of Sukeroku

About Yoshitaka Kimura

Born in 1937 and raised in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, Yoshitaka Kimura is a graduate of Keio University Faculty of Economics. In 1979, after working several years for a company, he inherited Sukeroku, a family-owned shop specializing in toys of Edo, from his father and became its fifth owner. Combining his profound knowledge of customs and cultures of Edo with a witty style of speech, Kimura is a great storyteller and regularly receives lecture requests.

About Kikuzo Hayashiya

Rakugo-ka Kikuzo Hayashiya

Hirotoshi Toyoda was born in Tokyo in September 1975. After graduating from Tamagawa University College of Arts, he became a disciple of the first Kikuzo Hayashiya, his father and a master rakugo-ka, a traditional Japanese comic storyteller.

In September 2007, he became a shin-uchi, the headliner, and succeeded the name Kikuzo Hayashiya from his father, who took on a new name, Kikuou.

In recent years, he has expanded the scope of his activities beyond rakugo by appearing on TV and giving lectures throughout Japan. He is also an author, penning several books, including Easy Going Parenting, which he co-wrote with his father.



Featured Image: Red Owl
Locally made red toys known as “akamono” can be found throughout Japan. Because the color red has long been associated with the prevention of disaster, especially smallpox, red toys have historically been given to children as protection from disease.