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kijiguruma pheasant on wheels



kijiguruma, kiji kuruma きじ車  pheasant on wheels
kiji-guruma, 雉子車
Most of this type have four wheels.


kijiuma, kiji uma きじ馬 / 雉馬 "pheasant horse"
Most of this type have two wheels. They are made in the mountains and are rather big and sturdy and children can ride them.
The ones sold at seasonal markets were painted in strong colors.

Maybe the most famous folk toy in Kyushu.

A toy made from cedar or other wood and painted with strong colors.
It has two wheels so children can pull it around on a string.

These toys from Kumamoto and Fukuoka are most famous.
They used to be made in more than 30 workshops. Now maybe 10 craftsmen are left to make them.

Warriors from the defeated Heike clan hid in the mountainous regions of Kyushu, made a living as woodcutters and in winter produced these simple toys.
The pheasant is an auspicious bird in many old legends.

Visitors brought it to other countries too, and the naming "pheasant horse 雉馬" started from there.
In many villages in Kyushu it is placed in a shrine or temple like a votive tablet (ema 絵馬).

Like the kokeshi wooden dolls are popular in Tohoku, these pheasant toys are popular in Kyushu.
During the Edo period, they have already been listed in books about regional specialities.

There are three major types :

Kiyomizu type 清水(きよみず)系
Hitoyoshi type 人吉(ひとよし)系 and
Kitayamada type 北山田系


Fukuoka Prefecture :

Miyama town, みやま市
as a souvenir at the temple Kiyomizu Kannon 清水観音.

One day in the year 806 the priest Dengyo Daishi Saicho, on his way home from China, saw a golden light east of the Ariake Sea. He climbed the East Mountain to find this sacred light deep in the forest. On his way he encountered great hardship and even lost his way. Suddenly, a male pheasant came by and showed him the way. Saicho found a shining "silk tree" nemu no ki 合歓木, carved a Kannon Bosatsu with 1000 arms into this tree and build a temple nearby.
This is the origin of the pheasant toy at the temple.

The toy is made from pine wood which has dried for more than one year. It is only made from wooden parts.
The pheasant is colored in lively red and green, with a saddle on his back for the male and a cut for the female animal. It has four little wheels.

It is seen as a talisman to bring good luck and a happy family. It is often given as a present to a young family or when building a new house.

source : Fukuiyasan
This one was made by Tokunaga Yasutaroo 徳永安太郎.

Hata village
Yahata, Kitakyushu 北九州市八幡西区
They were made in this village until it was flooded because of the Hata Water Reservoir 畑貯水池. The village elder Kachihata 梶畑允 reports that it was sold as a talisman at the Kannon temple of Hata to heal diseases of the eyes and people made it there until about 1975.

Hobashira village 帆柱(ほばしら)
Yahata, Kitakyushu 北九州市八幡西区
It was made in this village during the mingei folkart boom after WWII. Many were made by Ueda Hiroshi 上田博.
The toys are small and colorful.

Kitano village 北野
Kurume town 久留米市
A souvenir for the shrine Kitano Tenmangu 北野天満宮, together with a carved bullfinch.
Both head and tail are long, painted in red and green.

. usokae うそ替え exchanging carved bullfinches

Miike village 三池
Oomuta town, 大牟田市(おおむたし)
They were sold at the first fair of the New Year in Miike.
The saddle was in the middle of the body, and it was painted in strong colors. It was similar to the one from Kiyomizu temple

Munakata village 宗像(むなかた)
Fukutsu town 福津市(ふくつし)
The shrine carpenter Ko from Tsuyazaki village 津屋崎町(つやざきまち) named Kohi Kizoo 小樋喜蔵 made it for the shrine festival at Busan Jinja 豊山神社.

Yoshii town 吉井
This pheasant was made as a souvenir of the shrine Wakamiya Hachimangu 若宮八幡宮, but has been out of making since the Showa period.
In 1955, Kaneko Fujio 金子文夫 started again to make it.
The head is small and the tail longer. On the yellow body is painted red and green patterns.

Yanagawa town 柳川
see Miyama shi みやま市


- source and more photos : kusennjyu.exblog.jp

. Folk Toys from Fukuoka

. Saicho, Dengyo Daishi 伝教大師最澄 .


Kumamoto Prefecture :

Hitoyoshi town 人吉市

kiji uma きじ馬 "pheasant horse"

The toy has two wheels and is painted in strong red and green colors.
It has no saddle.

Many of them are sold at the February market for the deity Ebisu えびす市.
Farmers bought it as a talisman for a good harvest and good business.
The Chinese character for LARGE 大 is written on its head, reminding that the maker was from Otsuka village (see below).
Children could pull it around or ride on it.

The Hitoyoshi-type toy is also made in other villages, like Yatsushiro and Hinagu as souvenirs in the hot springs.

The pheasants are decorated with a bright-red camellia blossom on the back, in remembrance of the red war banner of the Heike clan. Many Heike samurai settled in the village of Otsuka 大塚.
Other items like boxes and battledores from Hitoyoshi are also decorated with the red camellia blossom of the Heike.

. . . . .

Hinagu Hot Spring 日奈久温泉
The "horse" type has a smaller body and longer tail, often made from paulownia wood (kiri 桐), since the region is famous for its paulownia sandals (geta). The craftsmen used the leftover pieces to make small pheasants. It is quite sturdy and children can play with it without worry.
It is painted in orange, red, blue and green.
It is made with the wish for good health of children.

Ikura village 伊倉
Tamana town 玉名市
Sold at the famous yearly market in March to bring good luck to families.
The toys were also made by makers of wooden sandals of the region. The head is painted red, the rest without color. Sometimes a small pheasant is sitting on the back of a bigger one.

Taniozaki village 谷尾崎
photo see below

The call of the pheasant in this village is heared as
kenken ケンケン
Many villagers carved the simple toys from late autumn to winter and sold it at various markets, for example the Koraimon Market 高麗門の市 in Kumamoto town.
The wood was branches of red pine (akamatsu アカマツ) with their natural bendings and curves, so each toy has its own flavor and shape.

Taragi village 多良木
Closely related to the Hitoyoshi toys. Sold at the local fairs and festivals. Many craftsmen flourished during the short mingei folkcraft boom after WW II.

Yunomae village 湯前
Yatsushiro town 八代市
One famous maker was Sawada Kosaburo 沢田小三郎 at the beginning of the Showa period, who had seen one at the fair in Hitoyoshi. He was a maker of wooden sandals (geta) and used the leftover wood.

Arao town 荒尾
no details

. Folk Toys from Kumamoto .


Oita Prefecture :

Kusu village 玖珠町

Kitayamada no kijiguruma 北山田のきじ車

This model is found in many parts of the Kusu plain, in the north of Oita prefecture. The villages are trying to revive the village life with this toy, especially Oonohara village 大野原 Onohara.
The toy is made from plain wood of the magnolia hypoleuca tree ホオノキ, with two wheels and a saddle.
It was given to a family when a baby boy war born.
It strong and simple making allowed the boy to sit on it and ride it like a horse.

Other villages to make this type are Tobata 戸畑 , Yamaura 山浦 and
. Hita 日田市 - Bungo no Kuni Hita 豊後国日田 .

There is even a liquor with this name, see below.
A big wooden model is now placed at the train station of Kitayamada.

Onta, Onda Village 小鹿田(おんた)
First made by Sakamoto Senzoo 坂本仙蔵.
It is made from wood of the Tilia kiusiana tree (hera no ki ヘラノキ), without any colors. Its head is rather long. The wheels are made from pottery, since Onda is a village of potters.

. Folk Toys from Oita .


A shochu rice liquor named "Kijiguruma"


八鹿 『粕取り焼酎 きじ車』
Oita Yatsushika, kasutori shoochuu
with clear water from the Kusu plain, Oita

source : allabout.co.jp


. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. Reference .

きじ馬 City Museum Fukuoka Collection

from Taniozaki

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

source : museum.city.fukuoka.jp


aki meku ya fun no be ni uru kijiguruma

autumn at its best -
near the ancient tomb they sell
pheasants on wheels

Sogoo Hatsu 十河波津
source : saijiki/akimeku

This refers to the kofun tumulus graves at Haraguchi in Fukuoka,
原口古墳群, Chikushino town 筑紫野市
and the nearby
"Uragawachi park with pheasants on wheels" 浦河内キジ車の里公園 in Oita, with a huge wooden pheasant of 5.5 meters high and a length of 10 meters.

. WKD : Pheasant (kiji 雉)


. kuruma gangu 車玩具 toys on wheels .

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .

. Tohoku after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011


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