When it comes to decorative statues, good craftsmanship is essential, which is why I enjoy collecting them. A type of figure I’ve appreciated for some time is jizai okimono, a Japanese design that was started in the 17th century by makers of samurai armour. The words roughly translate as ‘move freely decorative object,’ and the way to describe jizai okimono is a type of highly-detailed articulated statue that has moving parts. The most common designs are animals, which is why I was excited to purchase a jizai okimono dragon created by Kaiyodo.
The history of jizai okimono dates back to the 17th century, during a period of peace in Japan. As samurais became courtiers and administrators, the armour makers felt they needed to adapt their skills and started creating detailed statues. The process of armour making was applied to designing the scales and moveable limbs of many animals The earliest known example jizai okimono is a dragon created by Myochin Muneaki in 1713. By the 19th century, jizai okimino had become popular collectibles in the west.
I first came across a jizai okimono beetle while volunteering in the Manchester Museum. I found the idea of the figure intriguing and started researching the subject until I decided to buy one for myself. The Kaiyodo-made dragon lives up to the standards of the original armourers because each part is moveable, from the head to the tail. This means it can be placed into a variety of different positions.
The dragon has a gold, blue, white and orange paint job that makes it stand out. The paint is of a high grade and you can tell there has been a lot of thought put into the colour scheme. The golden spines and teeth catch the light and provide a great contrast with the rest of the body.
At 14 inches tall, the figure is very elegant and its articulated nature adds to the overall appeal. It also comes with a stand so the dragon can be propped up and held in a secure position. After trying out a few different positions, I found it best to keep the figure on the stand because of the security it provides. The overall stability of the dragon is good and looks decent when its on all fours as well.
It’s worth noting that the jizai okimino is delicate and needs handling with care. I bought the Kaiyodo dragon for $69.00, which worked out to be around £50. I thought it was a sweet deal, considering how expensive some jizai okimono can be. The dragon is a gorgeous figure that the original samurai armour makers would be proud of.