日本玩具博物館館長 井上重義


Toy & Doll Collection Exhibit

It is an honor to present several exhibits of toys and dolls housed by the Japan Toy Museum, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Kobe opening its ports.

In 1963, I came across a book on folk toys. I realized that this aspect of women’s and children’s cultural heritage was taken for granted and may soon be lost, so while I worked for Sanyo Electric Railway I traveled nationwide and amassed a collection. In 1974, I constructed an addition onto my home to present the 5,000 pieces I had collected to the public. I called it the “Inoue Toy Museum,” which I would rename “Japan Toy Museum” in 1984.

At present, over 90,000 pieces from 160 countries are housed in six buildings in the style of traditional Japanese storehouses, where unique exhibits and awareness efforts take place. With the support of excellent staff and the cooperation and assistance of many others, this collection has expanded and has been well-received not only nationwide but worldwide as well.

I learned about folk toys from Takeshi Hashimoto, a teacher at Nada High School. I worked another 14 years, in charge of public relations at Sanyo Electric Railway’s main office (Nagata Ward, Kobe) until I retired in 1984 at the age of 45. That connection helped me collect Kobe toys and dolls, cultural artifacts that were doomed to be lost without a trace. I acquired the collections of well-known Kobe folk toy collectors such as Seiji Osaki, Takeshi Hashimoto, and Takayoshi Watanabe after they passed on.

After the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake in 1995, I formed a bond with the city of Kobe through efforts to retrieve discarded hina and samurai dolls. I also became very active in collecting Kobe Ningyo, which have about a 100-year-long history. Since Kobe was once the world’s greatest export port of Christmas products, the city has amassed a Christmas toy collection that focuses on Christmas decorations from all over the world. There is nothing else like it in Japan.

This exhibit is only a glimpse of the museum’s collection, but I hope you all will appreciate the brilliance of Kobe’s toys and dolls.

Shigeyoshi Inoue, Director
Japan Toy Museum
 ★translated by Tonya Bamberger