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No matter how the times change, kids still love toys. Whether it was ancient Egypt or the mid-Edo period, toys have always been a big part of the way children passed their time in play. Even with all our fancy technology today, from 3DSs to Oculus Rifts, kids still make time to run around with their favorite dolls or plastic guns. Of course, Japan is full of figures of all varieties and price tags, but gachapon occupy a position of near invincibility–you can put pretty much anything in those little plastic balls and they’re practically guaranteed to sell.

And, starting soon, you’ll also be able to buy remakes of traditional Japanese toys from the early 18th century. You’ll finally get the opportunity to play like a kid from the Edo Period while waiting for your 3DS to recharge!

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Produced by Kaiyoudo and Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten Co., Ltd., a company with a history stretching back to the 1700s, these toys perfectly complement Nakagawa’s mission to “revitalize Japanese crafts.” The eight figures (one remains a mystery) are based on traditional toys from Japan’s various prefectures. Though only eight pieces will be made available at the end of October, the goal is to eventually release figures representative of each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

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The seven figures, pictured above, come from Shimane, Aomori, Fukuoka, Nara, Kagawa, Ishikawa, and Tokyo, respectively. The traditional toys often had religious significance, like the tiger (called a “hariko tora”) from Shimane, which was believed to keep illness away and was given to children to ensure they’d grow. The “uso” (a homonym for “bullfinch” and “lie”) from Fukuoka was a wooden toy designed to look like a bird and was believed to turn “lies into truth” and “bad luck into good luck.”

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This colorful bird toy from Aomori above is called a “hatobue,” which literally means “pigeon whistle.” The traditional toy was, as you have probably figured out, a whistle for children. We can only imagine how many were “accidentally lost” by annoyed parents almost three hundred years ago!

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The “inu hariko” pictured above is the Tokyo toy and is actually supposed to be a dog, though you can be forgiven for thinking it was a cat like we did! Dogs were considered guardian deities for pregnant women and children, since dogs often and easily gave birth.

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Naturally, Nara’s representative toy is a deer, called a “hariko shika.” The deer were representative of the cycle of death and rebirth.

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While the original toys were made of wood or papier-mâché (hariko means papier-mâché), based on these photos of the unpainted toys, it looks like Nakagawa’s gachapon versions are plastic. While that’s a bit of a bummer, we can’t really complain–they only cost 300 yen (US$2.80) each! Of course, you’ll be getting them at random, so who knows how much you’ll actually have to spend to get a full set…

▼Note the mystery toy at the top right…could that be Totoro?

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▼The seven figures painted and arranged in a display case.

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Currently, the gachapon toys are set to be released at the end of October, so you have plenty of time to save up your 100 yen coins! Right now, our favorite is definitely the uso toys–there’s nothing we love quite as much as a good pun!

Sources: ITMediaNakagawa Masashichi Shoten Co., Ltd., Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten Co., Ltd. (English)
Images: Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten Co., Ltd.