This top depicts Momotarō, sometimes translated as “The Peach Boy,” or “Peach Tarō,” a legendary figure originating in the Edo period (1600-1868). In many versions of the Momotarō legend, Momotarō is a boy who came to Earth inside a giant peach who is discovered by an elderly couple who then raise him. He later leaves his home to fight a band of demons on a distant island, meeting a talking dog, a monkey, and a pheasant on the way who joint him in his quest. Most versions of the legend end with Momotarō defeating the demons, taking their treasure and their chief captive, and then returning home to live happily ever after with his parents.
In this top, Momotarō is very nervous to go fight the demons and has to go to the bathroom. He’s trying very hard to go and looks like he is going to wet himself. If you spin it properly the bottom drops out. There is a play on words with the title “un,” which sounds like a person struggling to go to the bathroom, and the character un 運, which means “luck,” so this is also called an unkoma or “luck top.”
Hiroi Michiaki: This is an interesting one. It’s Momotaro and I think there’s another one around here somewhere that has an oni (ogre). Umm, there was one with an oni earlier and it has an interesting story. There’s no oni on this one, I think. Huh? I think there was an oni. Somewhere. Ahh, it’s different than the oni.
This is from before Momotaro goes to the island of demons to exterminate them. Before that he’s extremely nervous and has to go to the bathroom. Heh heh heh. He’s trying really hard. If you spin it, it plops from the bottom. It will come out of ones that are made well. You spin it. In Japan, if you do that, it’s good luck. It’s called an unkoma 運独楽 (luck top). It’s said you’re spinning luck. And another [meaning here] is that the next time there’s an oni battle, Momotaro is coming to fight them, and he’s nervous and feels like he’s going to wet himself, and [the top] rattles about like this like he’s going to [pee himself]. I think the oni [top] is somewhere in here.