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Former latheman makes spinning tops for Summit (May 18, 2008)

Mitsugu Tanaka shows one of his Mir-shaped spinning tops in front of the real Mir space station. The ball-like part at the front is the docking port, and is the uppermost part when the top is spun.

TOMAKOMAI - In advance of the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, 80-year-old Mitsugu Tanaka, a former latheman from Tomakomai City, has produced two large wooden spinning tops modeled on the former Soviet Union's Mir space station, which is currently on display at the Tomakomai Science Museum. He hopes to give them to government officials of Russia, the home of the Mir, during the Summit.

Each of the tops is a different size: one is a 1:60-scale model of 30 centimeters in length, while the other is 1:55 and 33 centimeters in length. The model's astronomical observation room can be taken apart and used as a stand for the top, while the top itself is composed of the model's living space and cockpit. The top spins for 30 seconds to a minute when a cord wrapped around the top is pulled.

Tanaka has made around 2,000 spinning tops and donated them to nursery schools in the city. He came up with the idea of making tops modeled on the Mir in January last year after seeing the space station in the museum every week.

Tanaka is currently considering how to approach Russian officials, and is carefully producing a third 1:50 Mir top (36 cm in length). He says he feels making the tops is worthwhile if they will bring enjoyment to somebody.

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