Enjoy the individuality of the toy workshop!
Since its opening in 1998, the Erz Toy Museum-Karuizawa has collected a wide range of toys made primarily in Europe. The core of the collection consists of wooden toys made in Seifen, a toy town in the Erz region of Germany. Other toys in the collection include tin toys made in Munich, educational toys made by Swiss toy manufacturer Neff, toys and glass ornaments made in Scandinavia, and many others.
It is the skills of wooden toy craftsmen and designers that support the toys made in Europe. For example, Seiffen uses a technique called “Reiffendraen” for toy making. In this method, a piece of wood is attached to a wheel and rotated at high speed, and then the wood is shaved with a chisel or other tool to create the desired shape. The superior skill of the craftsmen who use this “Reifendraen” technique is what supports Seiffen’s toy making.
In addition, Swiss toy manufacturer Neff is known for producing high-quality toys with high design quality. In 2012, Neff GmbH partnered with a company that specializes in precision woodworking, allowing for rigorous quality testing of its products. In addition, Neff also values its connections with designers. Many toys are brought in by designers, and after passing rigorous internal inspections, the designers’ names are also listed on the products sold. These various efforts enable us to produce toys of high quality.
Many European educational toys, including those made by Neff, were influenced by the ideas of the German pedagogue, Fröbel. Known as the first person in the world to create a “kindergarten,” Froebel created toys called “benefactors” that could be played with according to the child’s stage of development. Onbuts have the same length of one side (base scale) and can be played with by combining various shapes, stimulating children’s imagination. These ideas of Froebel’s have been adopted by various toy manufacturers, who have created toys with the same base scale and toys that are suitable for children’s ages.
This exhibition will display toys made in Europe by workshop and manufacturer. The characteristics and particularities of each toy will also be introduced. We hope you will enjoy the toys and the skills and thoughts of the makers behind them.