Daruma deconstructed: collecting hashioki

I thought it would be interesting to take a break from my usual posts to write an entry regarding my collection. So this post is about the acquisition of the daruma hashioki featured in the previous post.

IMG_2387As I mentioned elsewhere, I have been collecting hashioki since 1993. Since daruma are so iconic in Japanese culture, it’s a little surprising that I didn’t acquire my first daruma until June 1998 (maybe the frown on his face is communicating his disapproval). I purchased it in the Kappabashi or “kitchen town” neighborhood of Tokyo, which is a few blocks west of Asakusa and the famous Sensō-ji temple. Kappabashi has several blocks of stores selling restaurant and kitchen supplies. Most of the stores have open fronts, with no doors or windows, and the merchandise spills out onto the sidewalk on tables and shelves. The stores tend concentrate on one kind of item: there are knife stores, paper good stores, cooking pot and utensil stores, and of course stores that sell china items, meaning bowls, plates, cups, and hashioki.

IMG_2388My second daruma acquisition was this unglazed example. It was also purchased from a little shop in Kappabashi, but in December 2010. Unglazed hashoki are a little unusual. I remember retrieving it from a dark shelf close to the ground and studying it in my hand to confirm that it was indeed a daruma. Alas, what I also remember from this trip is that the number of Kappabashi stores selling hashioki had significantly decreased.

Daruma deconstructedI purchased this reclining daruma from one of my favorite vendors on eBay, Steve Kotake, dba ssc4tansu, in September 2014. Some of the most unusual and unique items in my collection have come from this California-based seller; he must have a special pipeline to vintage sources. I have already promised to devote a future post to this one piece. In the meantime, I’ll just say that “it makes my heart beat faster.”

IMG_2385My next daruma were purchased from the Japanese website Rakutan, which is actually a conglomeration of shops. Rakutan’s internet presence has transformed the way I collect hashioki during the past few years, making it almost unnecessary for me to travel from the US to Japan to find great pieces.  Please note that I did say almost. This piece featuring a daruma pair was purchased from Rakutan vendor from Kyoto in October 2014.


These two daruma hashioki were purchased from vendors on eBay, which continues to be an important source for my collection. The daruma on the left came from an expat family living in Nagoya in February 2015, and the smiling daruma came from a different vendor in Japan in April 2015.


Daruma6This daruma is a recent acquisition, purchased from a shop in Magome on the Nakasendo Road, north of Nagoya.  He has a rustic-style body, but I think his face looks like a modern cartoon.



And this daruma comes from a famous place:  a town of Arita, on the island of Kyushu,Daruma deconstructed which is filled with pottery kilns, painting workshops, and of course shops.  Porcelain has been produced in Arita since the early 17th. century, and the town remains a center for porcelain production today.  While this daruma looks somewhat fierce, the character written beneath his face is actually the kanji for happiness.

Who knows where my next daruma will come from? Could be one of these sources, or could be another: a shop in Kyoto on the Sannen-zaka slopes below Kiyomizu Temple, a hotel gift shop somewhere else in Japan, an artisan or flea market shopper posting on Etsy.com, or a US big box retailer like Target or Crate & Barrel. I am on the lookout!



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