The Kyo Top (京こま)
The Kyo top is a kind of Japanese spinning top.
Its Shape and Production Process
It looks the same as an ordinary 'spinning top,' but it's made in a totally different way. Ordinary Japanese spinning tops are made of wood, but Kyo tops are made of a bamboo stem around which a long piece of thick cotton string (or a strip of expensive silk such as yuzen-dyed fabric or nishijin brocade) is wound. The latter type is flat and cone-shaped with a stem at its center. The body of the Kyo top has a peculiar texture thanks to its cotton string, and the stem of the Kyo top is relatively longer than that of an ordinary spinning top (which is probably influenced by the way it's spun).
The Way to Spin It
Although an ordinary Japanese spinning top, including the beigoma, is usually spun with a string wound around its body, twist spinning tops (including the Kyo top) are spun by directly spinning their stems.
It is said that spinning tops were introduced to Japan from China and became popular as amusements in the Imperial Court. The origin of the Kyo top is said to be the fact that court ladies wound twist the ends of kimono (Japanese traditional clothing) around bamboo sticks to make spinning tops, and that they would amuse themselves by spinning them indoors.
Eventually, these spinning tops spread among ordinary people and became established as one of Ozashiki-Asobi (playing games with Geisha [Japanese professional female entertainers at drinking parties]). Since the end of the Showa period, traditional New Year's games--such as the Kyo top--faded away from all areas of Japan. Therefore, all the manufacturers of Kyo tops closed down and disappeared for a time. However, in recent years the last manufacturers' relatives have resumed manufacturing Kyo tops.