The Nippon Club, miniatures, Edo-style, Edo period, Japan, NYC, exhibition, craftsmanship, Sukeroku, KUMON Institution of Education, Yoshitoku, Yuko Matsuyama

Miniature Edo-Style Toys from Japan on Display at The Nippon Club

Miniature Edo-Style Toys from Japan

Thursday, June 28 through Wednesday, July 25
Opening reception: Thursday, June 28 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

The Nippon Gallery at The Nippon Club – 145 West 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues), 7th Floor

Admission: Free

The Nippon Club presents Miniature Edo-Style Toys from Japan, an exhibition that showcases some of the finest examples of crafts from the Edo period (1603 – 1868) in Japan. Included in the exhibition are the intricate miniature figures and toys depicting life in Edo, such as hagoita (wooden paddles) with zodiac animals, hanten coats worn by firefighters, and more.

Participating organizations and artists include Sukeroku, KUMON Institution of Education, Yoshitoku, and Yuko Matsuyama.

The Nippon Club, miniatures, Edo-style, Edo period, Japan, NYC, exhibition, craftsmanship, Sukeroku, KUMON Institution of Education, Yoshitoku, Yuko Matsuyama

Sixty-three Edo-style toys from the Sukeroku Collection will be exhibited. Founded in 1866, Sukeroku is the only specialty shop for small toys of the Edo Period in Japan. During the Edo Period, the craftspeople honed their skills of making toys under the condition that sumptuary laws were often issued. Their toys have the spirit of the craftsmen who were persistent about details. The smaller the size, the more elaborate the toy, and each toy has its own meanings, origins, or wishes of the Edo generation.

The Kumon Institute of Education has gathered and is conducting research on a collection of ukiyo-e woodblock prints and other items focusing on the culture of children in Japan. This important collection, which touches on the areas of child rearing, education, and play in the days of yesteryear, now consists of approximately 3,200 artifacts. It is the largest and highest quality collection of ukiyo-e prints in the world dealing with the topic of children. The Kumon Institute of Education’s collection of ukiyo-e has gradually become known in the world of ukiyoe print research. As a result, ukiyo-e woodblock print with children as the primary subject matter has become recognized as a new genre. The exhibit will display eleven replicas of ukiyo-e from the Kumon Museum of Children’s Ukiyo-e collection.

Twelve Hagoitas (wooden paddles used in hanetsuki, which is a badminton-style game) with zodiac animals from the Yoshitoku Archive will be exhibited. Yoshitoku is a doll and toy wholesaler that was founded in 1711.

Washi paper craft artist Yuko Matsuyama will have 37 miniature washi flowers she created on display. Cultural appreciation of flowers was only common among the privileged aristocratic class in the chaotic times preceding the politically stable Edo Era of the17th to19th centuries. As social mayhem subsided, the general public gained the freedom of time and resources to develop a deep admiration for flowers. Political unification gave birth to the development and popularization of Japanese floriculture. Using a traditional craft technique, Yuko Matsuyama adds some flowers to “Time Travel Back to Little Edo.”

Five firemen’s coats from Sumi collection will be exhibited, including one Sashiko- stitched hanten coat worn by machibikeshi, firefighters of Edo. Firefighting teams had their own distinct mark or logo on the back of their coats to distinguish the teams and signify ranks. A sashiko-stitched hanten coat with a matoi design meant the firefighter was considered particularly brave and heroic.

In conjunction with the exhibition, The Nippon Club will hold a workshop on Saturday, June 30 from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Admission: $15/$10 Nippon Club members – Plus a $15 Material Fee

There was extremely popular merchandized playthings series during the Edo period. In this workshop, participants will make a Sukeroku doll by painting its face and coloring the head basket and kimono. Before painting the face, participants will practice how to draw Kumadori, choosing from nine Kumadori Kabuki patterns.

To register for the workshop, please send an email to

Miniature Edo-Style Toys from Japan is sponsored by JCC Fund (Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of New York, Inc.); supported by the Consulate General of Japan in New York and Japan Foundation, New York; and supervised by Yoshitaka Kimura, 5th Generation of Sukeroku, and Hideyuki Yamada, Creative Director of Hakuhodo. Shoko Hayashi is the guest curator.

The Nippon Club is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information, please visit The Nippon Club’s website.