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Author Topic: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993  (Read 1002 times)

Jeremy McCreary

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Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« on: June 12, 2019, 02:45:20 PM »

My copy from Japan finally arrived!


Photo originally posted by ta0 in this recent Edo koma thread.

English title: Edo Tops
Authors: Michiyaki Hiroi and Masaaki Hiroi (modern master of Edo top-making)
Copyright: 1993
Binding: Paperback with stiff, glossy cover slip
Source: Amazon
Condition: Used but excellent
Price: $49.28 shipped

Beautiful book! Surprised to find that it opens from the left, but it's thoroughly Japanese, so how else? Text is mostly in Japanese with some tantalizing English here and there.

Really wish I could read every word -- especially the sections on general top design and engineering, Edo top types and starting methods, Edo top-making (including how the onboard mechanisms work), and Edo top play (including the throwing of chonkakegoma-like tops). No luck resolving the age-old question, is "Edo koma" or "Edo goma", or "Edogoma" the best English term?

But the lavish illustrations more than make up for all that. Pages 10-96 are gorgeous full-page color photos of Edo tops and other spintoys with perfect angles and lighting. These show a much wider variety of Edo spintoys than I've seen anywhere else and are worth the price alone. The other color plate section (pp. 137-144) shows Japanese and Western paintings and drawings of tops in play.

And there are many, many B&W photos and drawings everywhere else. Of these, especially enjoyed (i) the line drawing chart of Edo hand and assisted top play with Japanese and English captions on pp. 196-197, and (ii) the many diagrams of top physics and engineering and Edo top play instructions after p. 167.

As for the Edo tops themselves, these words come to mind in no particular order: Whimsical, colorful, playful, delightful, elegant, masterful, diverse, ingenious, artistic, and cute. I consider the spinning top a fascinating toy, a physics laboratory, and a kinetic art form, and you'll find all of these personas highly developed in Edo tops. You really have to see all of them to get the full impact.

Visions of LEGO knock-offs are already swirling in my head. And now I have the info to pull some of them off -- at least in schematic form.

Bottom line: Highly recommended for any top fancier, even if you can't read Japanese.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 09:31:48 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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Playing with the physical world through LEGO

Diz

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 04:42:55 PM »

That looks like a great book Jeremy! I have had some limited success translating my old Japanese comic books using a translator app like the one by Google. Have you tried using that?
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 07:44:43 PM »

That looks like a great book Jeremy! I have had some limited success translating my old Japanese comic books using a translator app like the one by Google. Have you tried using that?

Of course, why didn't I think of that?? Forgot all about our trip to Spain last summer. Son taught me to use Google Translate's camera mode to view menus and signs as if they'd been in English all along. Pure magic! Used it all day every day. And it never occurred to me to try it on this book. Sheesh!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 12:17:55 AM by Jeremy McCreary »
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ta0

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Old Well Ghost Edo koma
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2020, 01:43:08 PM »

I'm very happy to have got this wonderful Edo Koma made by one of the Hiroi brothers. The Furuido (= Old Well) Ghost appears on page 47 of their book and it's signed at the bottom by Michiaki.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW2IniWd8xk
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 12:36:10 AM by ta0 »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Furuido Ghost Edo koma
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2020, 07:31:13 PM »

I'm very happy to have got this wonderful Edo Koma made by one of the Hiroi brothers. It appears on page 47 of their book and it's signed at the bottom by Michiaki.

Show off! Well, that and lucky dog.

Japanese tops really speak to me -- both mechanically and emotionally. I never tire of looking through this book.
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ta0

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2020, 12:16:50 AM »

This is another Edo Koma signed by Michiaki. It appears on page 41 of the Hiroi brothers' book:



I like the skin texture on the back of the Japanese board (Ino) made by scrapping the wood.

I confess that when I first got it I was a little disappointed. The top spun very smoothly at the top of the stick: I was expecting it to wobble and transmit some motion to the boar. It just made a little noise from the ball attached to the stick. But the bottom of the boar is obviously made slanted towards the center line what to me indicated that it was meant to rock side to side. A similar edo koma with a snail instead of a boar was claimed on its auction that it moved forward (I didn't win that one). I wondered it the stick had been replaced: it looked new and very straight.

That's how I left it on the bookshelf. But a couple of weeks later I found that a book had fell on it and bent the stick. Hallelujah! Now the board does rock and makes some rattling noises!  :) Not a huge amount but enough to give it the appearance of being alive. The amount of rocking depends on the speed of the spin and goes up and down as the spin decreases. I guess there is some resonance effect.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 12:20:15 PM by ta0 »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2020, 11:55:03 AM »

The gods smiled on you with that book. Love how the dynamics hinge on a seemingly insignificant detail.

Would love to know the back story here. The hedgehog clearly takes a dim view of having a top spinning on its back. As would any animal not belonging to this forum. Do hedgehogs hold a special place in Japanese culture?
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ta0

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2020, 12:16:20 PM »

It's actually a boar (Inoshishi) not a hedgehog, according to the caption on the book. The Japanese boar or white-moustached pig, is a wild boar native from Japan. From Wikipedia:

Quote
It is a small, almost maneless, yellowish-brown subspecies with distinctive white whiskers extending from the corners of the mouth to the cheeks.

It features prominently in Japanese culture, where it is widely seen as a fearsome and reckless animal, to the point that several words and expressions in Japanese referring to recklessness include references to boars. The boar is the last animal of the oriental zodiac, with people born during the year of the Pig being said to embody the boar-like traits of determination and impetuosity . . .  Boars are also seen as symbols of fertility and prosperity . . .

This edo koma was actually listed under Kokeshi dolls, not tops. There is currently another similar edo koma of the same vein from the Hiroi brothers for auction, a "squirting whale":



The bottom looks flat on the photos, so I don't know if the whale moves.

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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2020, 12:39:52 PM »

Thanks! I have great respect for Japanese culture -- a fascinating lens onto the world.

But they're just projecting on boars here. If anybody deserves to be the poster-species for recklessness, it's us. And we're supposed to be the "smart ones"!
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ta0

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2020, 05:01:05 PM »

This photo is from the book:



Together with the boar I got the one on the left. I thought it was about a mouse, but I just translated the caption and it's a sparrow (Sparrow's Inn)  ;D
I confess I was hopping the mouse/sparrow would come out while spinning. If you look carefully on the larger top (Pumpkin Eating Mouse), at least one mouse has a string attached and should come in and out. But no, the sparrow is fixed (I think carved directly into the wood), so that was little disappointing. But the finish is very good, including the bamboo shaped launcher. It spins like butter, what makes me think that the sparrow's hole is part of the balancing process. It's signed by Michiaki Hiroi.
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2020, 12:41:13 PM »

That Sparrow's Inn top is pretty darned cute. Would love to see it in action.

Based on the larger than average apparent (max axial length) / (max radius) and (CM height) / (max radius) ratios, thinking it might have some Tourenado-like behavioral tendencies -- but only with the right ball tip.
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ta0

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2020, 01:20:35 AM »

. . .  thinking it might have some Tourenado-like behavioral tendencies -- but only with the right ball tip.

Nope, the tip is kind of pointy:



In fact, once the leaning angle is such that  the red ball touches the ground, it changes personality into a rattling bouncing top!
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Book review: Edo Tops by M. and M. Hiroi, 1993
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2020, 01:24:35 PM »

Yeah, I can see that happening with a bottom like that.

I've experimented with lots of tops with an effective tip radius of curvature that grows rapidly with tilt -- sometimes even in jumps.

You can get some pretty chaotic behaviors that way. But some high-speed, high-CM tops like the ones below maintain wobble-free precession all the way down. Both of these "sidewinders" finish by spinning sideways (at 90° tilt) on the edges of their white and blue disks at high speed without wobble. The disks are at their CMs by design.



Either way, fun to watch the dynamic unfold.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2020, 01:42:42 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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