～∴～∴～∴～∴ Its head is suspended by a string that lets it bob in a cute way. ～∴～∴～∴～∴
A local toy of Aizu region with a history of 400 years going back to the days of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. “Akabeko”, which wards off evil, and “Okiagari-koboshi”, which is for safety and sound health within the family, are popular lucky charms.
The origin of “Aizu Hariko”, said to that began when Gamo Ujisato, the Lord of Aizu, invited Kyoto doll makers to Aizu in
order to establish the cultural, economic and industrial foundations there and to have low ranking Samurais master the doll making technologies as a way to make a living.
Aizu hariko is made using a wooden form and papir mache, and usually painted in red (*today, also painted with complex, colorful patterns.). Having been made the same way for generations, and they are amulets, and good luck charms made in the hope of good luck, good harvest and prosperous business.
The Akabeko is a papier-maché folk toy in the shape of a red cow with. Its head is suspended by a string that lets it bob in a cute way.
Aka means "red" and beko means “cow” or “bull” in the Tohoku dialect including Aizu region. Folk crafts featuring Akabeko are widely popular as talismans to ward off disaster and to pray to the gods.
“Akabeko” is appears in the legend of Aizu in Fukushima.
LEGEND - 1 -
In 1611, the Aizu region was hit by a big earthquake. Houses and temples like Enzouji were also destroyed. Later on, in 1617, people tried to rebuild the temple on the rocky hill where it’s
currently located. But the construction didn't go well, and the people suffered very much. Suddenly, a herd of powerful red cow/bulls appeared and helped them carry the lumber.
Based on this legend, Akabeko became a representation of persistence and strength, bringing happiness to the local people.
LEGEND - 2 -
There is one other legend regarding Akabeko.
The body of Akabeko has circle patterns that represent marks of smallpox. The circle patterns are attributed to the legend that a red cow warded off the plague epidemic in the Heian era (794-1185).
It was said that children would grow up healthy if they had Akabeko nearby them. And since in Japan the red color is associated with protection against diseases, akabeko became an amulet for good health.
The product is completed after a number of processes.
images: Nozawa Mingei -The size of the akabeko on the image varies.
As this product is handmade, the thickness, color and facial expression may differ slightly depending on the product.
Aizu region folk doll "Akabeko", shaped a red cow that shakes its head humorously.
All hand crafted by a skilled craftsman in Aizu, Fukushima.
*There will be slight variations in color and size.
【 Material / material 】
Papiermaché (recycled paper)
【 Größe (ca.) / size (approx.) 】
Höhe/ Height 9 cm
Länge/ Length 15 cm
Tiefe/ Depth 6,5 cm
Gewicht / Weight 60 g
【 Hergestellt / origin 】made in Japan
【 Hersteller / Manufacturer 】 Nozawa Mingei, Fukushima/Japan
【 Verpackung (Größe) / boxed (size) 】 9,5 x 16,5 x 7,5 cm
Atelier : NOZAWA MINGEI MANUFACTURING BUSINESS UNION
Artist : HOURIN
Designer, Painter: Minako Hayakawa
Nozawa Mingei, a family run folk arts creator is located in Nishiaizu, a small town in northwestern Fukushima Prefecture. The workshop is surrounded in natural beauty, along Iide mountains and Echigo mountains, and over two generations, manufactures Akabeko, Masks, Okiagari-Hariko or self-righting hariko, etc.
Master Hourin makes freestyle molds based on his images, while his daughter Ms. Hayakawa creates new painting designs.
Hourin, born in 1936 in Fukushima. When he was young, he worked for a drawer making factory, and learned wood processing technologies. In 1962, he established NOZAWA MINGEI Manufacturing Business Union and was appointed as the Representative Director. Till this day, he has been engaged in design and wooden mold production of a number of folk crafts beginning with the Symbols of Eto or twelve Zodiac figurines.
While Master Hourin makes efforts to hand down Aizu Hariko manufacturing technologies to the next generation, he currently pursues his own creative activities.
Minako Hayakawa grew up seeing her father's dedication to his craft and respect for the traditions of Aizu papier mache. And she has dedicated about 30 years to her craft, in an attempt to someday match her father's technique.
The tragedy of the disaster of 3.11 that effected so many in Japan served her as inspiration for new designs. She has been creating pieces as a prayer for the victims of the disaster, and a hope for recovery, using with traditional Japanese patterns.