As explained by Lynn Geis, to ensure good luck, Japanese traditionally purchase a small figure that represents the zodiac animal of the current year. Handmade of hariko (papier-mâché) and hand-painted, these animals vary in style across the regions of Japan and are known for their charming shapes, bright colors, and, often, their bobbing heads. Many of them are made in the home workshops of people who have been making them for decades. While living in Japan for a year Lynn fell in love with these figures and, ever since, has collected a few more every time she travels back to Japan. To date, this has brought her collection to over 170 hariko animals and dolls. In the Japanese Zodiac, 2021 celebrates the Year of the Ox.

About Lynn Geis

Look for my monthly articles on Japanese craft and culture in Yuuyake Shimbun. You can pick up a copy of this free paper at Uwajimaya and Fubon, and at some Japanese restaurants. For more information, you may contact me at

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