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Author Topic: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact  (Read 588 times)

ta0

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Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« on: April 21, 2019, 11:01:38 PM »

This print shows a famous top spinner from the Edo Period, Matsui Gensui:



He started a family of performers that later, starting in 1867, toured Europe.

I found this information on an interesting blog entry on tops from the Daruma Museum.
Something else on that blog really surprised me as I hadn't read it before:
Quote
Spinning tops became a well-loved hobby of the grown-ups in Edo since the Genroku period (1688 - 1704). It was also a means of boys to find boy-friends.
Since this was becomming too obvious, the Bakufu government banned spinning tops in the year 1701.
It seems top spinning was banned because it facilitated homosexuality!  :o :o :o
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2019, 12:01:05 AM »

Surprising indeed!

I'm confused as to the kinds of tops properly called "edo goma". The tops in the print appear to be throwing tops akin to chonkakegoma.

But in other seemingly authoritative sources, I see the name applied to non-throwing tops. These are often launched with a ripcord of one kind or another. And many carry clever mechanisms with whimsical themes.

So perhaps an edo goma is simply a wooden top with affinities to any top made in Japan during the Edo period or in the Edo (Tokyo) region.

The question then becomes, what kinds of tops were those? And are there modern Japanese wooden tops that are definitely not edo goma?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 12:19:33 AM by Jeremy McCreary »
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the Earl of Whirl

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2019, 06:36:53 AM »

That is some wild top spinning history.  Looks like an interesting variety of tops and tricks.
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Iacopo

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2019, 12:08:12 PM »

That is some wild top spinning history.  Looks like an interesting variety of tops and tricks.

There is one that seems a fountain top. 
I am wondering what kind of tops are the one at the left, above, and that at the right, above, which seems one particular.
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 01:28:08 PM »

There is one that seems a fountain top.
I am wondering what kind of tops are the one at the left, above, and that at the right, above, which seems one particular.

Sure looks like a fountain coming out of the stem at upper left. But hard to imagine how you'd make a top like that fountain given the rotor shape and lack of external water reservoir. To appreciate some of the engineering challenges involved, see our puzzlement over a working French metal fountain top ca. 1889 at http://www.ta0.com/forum/index.php/topic,16.msg60422.html#msg60422.

The tops at upper right appear to be the "lantern tops" Lourens shared with us here. He also included a lengthy discussion of the drawing above -- basically ta0's account in much more detail.

Still wondering how the lantern top was launched. The closed lantern top Lourens showed certainly looks throwable, but I see nothing to keep it from opening once it leaves the string. Perhaps the trick was to land it before that occurs. But it could also have been a ripcord top with detaching launcher. This would allow the closed top to be spun up with its tip on the ground and opened afterward. Edo goma commonly use both built-in and detaching ripcord starters.

Ripcord launches make more sense than throws to me, but a master might be able to make the latter work.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 02:08:15 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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Iacopo

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2019, 03:53:09 PM »

Sure looks like a fountain coming out of the stem at upper left. But hard to imagine how you'd make a top like that fountain given the rotor shape and lack of external water reservoir. http://www.ta0.com/forum/index.php/topic,16.msg60422.html#msg60422.

Lourens, in the link you posted, also suggests that it could be a top that becomes a firework. 

That at the left could be a lantern top indeed, since they seem suspended to the branches of a tree, which can make sense, if they are lanterns.
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ta0

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2019, 04:03:09 PM »

Thanks Jeremy: I had forgotten that Lourens had described that drawing before (but this image has higher has resolution). Lourens contributions will be sorely missed.
I might join the two threads.

So perhaps an edo goma is simply a wooden top with affinities to any top made in Japan during the Edo period or in the Edo (Tokyo) region.
Yes, I think that is probably a good definition.
Here is a book titled Edo Koma with lots of photos:



It includes not only the whimsical tops most commonly called Edo tops, plus the tops traditionally used by performance artists, but also even simple finger tops.
But it doesn't include beigoma or regional tops.
Beigomas started during the Edo period, originally made of sea shells, but are nowadays made of cast metal. As they are not wooden they wouldn't qualify. Likewise, fighter komas with iron skirts don't appear.
Well known komas like the Sasebo, Zuguri and Higo koma don't appear either.  This might be because Edo was the old name for Tokyo and these tops are from other regions.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 04:07:15 PM by ta0 »
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ta0

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2019, 04:14:15 PM »

Another possibility, besides fountain top or fireworks top, is one with curving feathers or rods. It's common for koma performers to have a top with a free spinning crossbar with hanging feathers that spins much slower than the koma underneath.
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2019, 04:49:46 PM »

Lourens contributions will be sorely missed.

Yes, sorely. Good thing we have knowledgeable historians to carry on.

You covered all questions on the table in one fell swoop! Would love to read that book.

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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2019, 06:46:49 PM »

Another possibility, besides fountain top or fireworks top, is one with curving feathers or rods.

You mean a top hat? Best theory I've heard by far.

It's common for koma performers to have a top with a free spinning crossbar with hanging feathers that spins much slower than the koma underneath.

Totally get that from my experience with "dual-spin" LEGO tops.  Easy to make and fun to design, play, and experiment with. Will share some photos.

But why stop at 2 independently rotating components? My latest color-mixing top uses 4. Video fails to capture the intended effect, but it's pretty trippy in person!  :o

After stumbling onto dual-spin tops, I learned that many communications satellites are "dual-spin" spacecraft -- meaning that they're divided into 2 "components" spinning independently on the same axis. One component typically carries and aims the solar panels, and the other, the radio antennas. The component carrying most of the spin angular momentum generally controls the axis -- just like in dual-spin tops.

« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 07:05:50 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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Iacopo

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2019, 02:21:42 AM »

Another possibility, besides fountain top or fireworks top, is one with curving feathers or rods.

You mean a top hat? Best theory I've heard by far.

I haven't thought to it, I agree, it seems a more believable explanation.
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2019, 04:10:35 AM »

Perhaps the lantern top worked something like this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YNU6wgTbDE

More edo goma from modern master Masaaki Hiroi  here.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 04:19:33 AM by Jeremy McCreary »
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PrincessTrouble

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2019, 11:23:30 AM »

More edo goma from modern master Masaaki Hiroi  here.

I wish I could find some of his tops that are for sale.
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2019, 01:23:59 PM »

I wish I could find some of his tops that are for sale.

You and me both!

My LEGO mechanical tops and spintoys (centrifugal, multi-spin, stacking, planetary, freewheel, etc.) have drawn a good bit of inspiration from Hiroi's mechanical "automatons". Ditto for my minifig-based story and joke tops.

Edo goma also gave me permission to make non-throwing tops that play well only with a built-in or external starter. That opens up a huge design space, and the starters are fun to make and use in their own right. (Not sure what to call these tops, as they're not really "finger tops" in use.)

Not easy to capture the edo goma look and feel in LEGO, but the basic concepts transfer nicely.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 01:46:20 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Japanese Edo print and a curious fact
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2019, 03:35:50 AM »

Here is a book titled Edo Koma with lots of photos...

Just bought a used copy on Amazon with 2 more still available. Really looking forward to a detailed study of all the different Edo designs when it arrives. Plan A is to make LEGO knock-offs of as many as possible.
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