Katahera dolls YANAGIYA REPRODUCT
Unique to the Inaba region, Katahera dolls make endearing decorations for the Boy’s Day festival. These dolls are delicately made from thin strips of wood by skilled craftsmen in the Nikakimachi ward of Tottori City. The crude, simple construction makes watching the tiny, wooden warriors compete for bravery all the more intriguing. All the excitement of the calvary and a castle fit into a remarkable 180cm. According to historical records in the Hōki-min-dan-ki, this doll emerged when the ruling Ikeda family lived in the Mikawa Yoshida region. That is why they were sometimes referred to as “Yoshida Zaiku.” Similar dolls are made throughout the former Yoshida region, including Himeji and Bizen in the Inaba province and Yonago and Kurayoshi in the Hoki province.
“Yanagiya” was a workshop that produced local toys in Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture, from 1928 to 2014, for 86 years. The name of the shop comes from a proverb, “Yanagi ni yukikore nashi,” which means “the willow tree does not break under the weight of snow.”
The first generation, Tatsunosuke Tanaka, created original toys based on the history and legends of Inaba, while also working to restore extinct toys. With his wife, Toshiko, he conducted research and production. Their daughter and son-in-law inherited the spirit of the shop’s name, and over 50 types of toys, including paper-mâché masks, clay whistles, and wooden dolls, were produced.
In 2020, “Yanagiya REPRODUCT” was launched, where new craftsmen learn the same techniques from the second generation, Kinji and Miyako Tanaka, and continue to produce Yanagiya’s toys.