たつと竜の子太郎 (tatsu to tatsu no kotarō)
dragon and Tarō, the Dragon Boy
This toy depicts a dragon and Tarō, the Dragon Boy. Though there are many versions of the tale, the story behind the toy comes from a local legend called Koizumi Kotarō monogatari (小泉小太郎物語), about a dragon that gave birth to a little boy near Lake Sayama. The waters of the lake sweep the boy away, and he is found and raised by a kind old woman living in a village nearby. He later embarks on a journey to find his dragon mother. Depicting the story of Tarō, the Dragon Boy in rolling toys such as this one is very popular in Japan.
Hiroi Michiaki: This is a toy I made in the year of the dragon. Like the ones children ride on, [but] you hold it in one hand [like a top]. It’s a toy, not a top.