Jacks - Japanese, Otedama, Fabric, late 1980s Object Reg. No: HT 14077

Alternative Name(s): Japanese Jacks, O-Tedama

Set of four fabric jacks, called 'otedama' in Japanese. They were purchased by the donor in Japan in the late 1980s. Such toys were played with by children throughout Japan when the donor was growing up but are now only sold at more specialised stores. The donor brought the toys to Australia in her capacity as a cultural ambassador, introducing Australians to Japanese traditions. Some of these toys were previously displayed in Museum Victoria's Children's Museum, where the donor conducted several workshops from 1989 to 1993. These workshops introduced children to playing with such toys and to making origami.

Playing otedama with small fabric bean bags is a traditional game for Japanese girls. The otedama are usually small bags, made from fabric and filled with beans or rice to give them weight. More decorative otedama are sometimes made as presentation pieces for gifts or for display. The game is played in a similar way to Knucklebones, and it is sometimes accompanied by a musical chant. One informant preferred a juggling-style of play. Many otedama survive from the Edo period (1603 to 1868).

Part of the Australian Children's Folklore Collection (ACFC). The ACFC is unique in Australia, documenting contemporary children's folklore across Australia and in other countries reaching back to the 1870s. The Collection has a strong component of research material relating to Victoria.
The four jacks are composed of fabric sacks filled with a coarse, loose material. One of the jacks has a cloth, painted face with a gold bead and red threads beside it. They are housed in a black hexagonal box with a fitting lid. The box is wrapped in plastic packaging with a small gold and maroon sticker bearing untranslated Japanese print.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mrs Masumi Hiraga, 2007
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 4 cm (Width), 5 cm (Length)
Dimension Comment: size of each top

More information

Tagged with: children s play, early childhood development, games, japanese toys, toys, making history - australian childrens folklore
Themes this item is part of: Australian Children's Folklore Collection, Childhood & Youth Collection, Leisure Collection, Migration Collection, Masumi Hiraga Jackson, Japanese Migrant, 1985
Primary Classification: GAMES & TOYS
Secondary Classification: Action Games
Tertiary Classification: hand
Inscriptions: Gold ink on maroon sticker. Untranslated Japanese script.
Place & Date Made: Japan, 1985-1989
Collector: Mrs Masumi Hiraga
References: Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia(Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1993); Japan at a Glance (Kodansha International Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1997); http://www.boston.us.emb-japan.go.jp/eng/teaching/trad_toys.html; Traditional Toys of Japan (Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, 1979).

Further information information on otedama supplkied by Natsuko, a Deakin University student, April 2010.

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