Japan being a nation infatuated with their knives, a very popular toy genre is the food cutting toy. I found Woody Puddy a maker of high quality items, the wooden fruits and vegetables being held together by little magnets (which gives the added benefit that you can put together “Frankenfruit”). Pictured above is their salad set, but there’s no fruit or vegetable that you can’t purchase from them separately (and hands down – who wouldn’t want a tiny wooden renkon split up into segments?). In a similar spirit, but really the apex of cuteness are the wooden play sets of Mother Garden (マザーガーデン). Pictured above a (small) selection from their Wafu (Japanese style) tea and sweets set. The love for cutting can be indulged also here, the layers of the dorayaki and the matcha roll cake are held together with velcro, which gives a more realistic cutting experience. Ampersand, a kid’s clothing maker, also makes nice toys for babies. We love their snapping crocodile! Character goods are a huge deal in Japan (Hello Kitty, anyone?). Entire shops are dedicated to them. We fell for a Rilakkuma (Hello Kitty’s enemy – at least in terms of market shares) dressed as a deer and a Chu (medium size) Totoro. Stuffed animals do no count as plastic, right?? Of course, it is possible to go the traditional route also here. The selection pictured above was purchased around Kyoto. Otedama balls made from colorful silks, flowers and blossoms, gold fish and many more things can be found in souvenir shops at tourist destinations around the country.
Are Japanese toys as cute as one would imagine? Absolutely! If you love plastic, knock yourself out, but even if you don’t, there is an abundance of lovely toys to choose from.