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Untitled by Seifu Shimizu

Untitled by Seifu Shimizu


In the early 1880s, Seifu Shimizu —director of a Tokyo shipping company, artist, and calligrapher—began collecting traditional Japanese omocha (toys). He soon acquired hundreds, and in 1891 began to publish illustrations of his toys made from his own paintings in a color woodblock series, called “Unai no tomo” (“The Child’s Friends”). He finished six before his death in 1913. His friend, artist Nishizawa Tekiho, completed what would become the 10-volume Unai no tomo series. It is considered the definitive illustrated work on Japanese folk toys, and an invaluable reference for both collectors and scholars in Japanese history, culture, religion, and family life through the centuries.


The toys and dolls depicted in Unai no tomo derive from amulets and talismans rooted in Shinto and traditional Japanese folklore—they often have magical, curative, protective or luck-bringing powers. Many were made and sold only on festival days at specific shrines, and were bought by those on pilgrimages and given as gifts.



  • Series title: Unai no tomo (Book of toys)
  • Series size: 16 artworks
  • Edition: Limited edition of 1000
  • Proof of Ownership: Certification on the Ethereum blockchain under the ERC1155 protocol. Each artwork is delivered privately and directly to collectors as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that guarrante proof of ownership.
  • Format: Pieces consist of PNG files sized 2160x3840 pixels - 150 dpi.
  • Medium: Illustration
  • Artwork materials:  Illustration paper
  • Contract Address: 0x495f947276749ce646f68ac8c248420045cb7b5e
  • ID: 2749212597480566...



Seifu Shimuzu combined basic study of elements of Japanese artistic traditions with his role as head of a family shipping company. He was a calligrapher and studied art with Hiroshige III, an artist who specialized in woodblock printing. For many, his lack of formal study as a painter works well, adding a charming, unselfconscious style that seems especially appropriate to the depiction of toys.



  • Historical curatorship: HARI - Historical Art Research Institute (HARI Editions)
  • Artwork: Seifu Shimizu
  • Year of original publication: 1913-1924
  • Post-production: HARI - Historical Art Research Institute (HARI Editions)
  • Digital art supervisor: Marie-Lou Desmeules
  • Editorial: Braden Phillips
  • Historical research: Evangelos Rosios, Braden Phillips
  • Executive production: Victor Zabrockis



  • Source of artwork: The Metropolitan Museum
  • Underlying work rights: PD Worldwide
  • Digital copyrights: No Additional Rights