The Japanese can make anything an art; flower arranging, the Japanese tea ceremony, Origami, the list goes on and on, but this must be one of the most peculiar. Polished mud or dirt balls called Hikaru Dorodango. This is exactly what it sounds like - ornamental balls that are formed from mud and polished to a high shine. You wouldn't think you could make something so attractive from plain simple dirt and water, but that's exactly what these are.

Making Hikaru Dorodango is a great activity to do with your children - they are going to play in the mud anyway, so you may as well make something shiny while they are getting their clothes dirty. Besides that, making polished dirt balls can be very relaxing and the finished item is such a transformation from the mud that you start with that you will be astounded by it.

The origin of hikaru dorodango is lost in the mists of time, but it is a traditional pastime among children in Japan, and has been for as long as we can remember. The tradition experienced some decline for a while but then Fumio Kayo, a Professor at Kyoto University of Education came across some hikaru dorodango at a nursery school that a teacher there showed him. Kayo studied and examined the dirt balls and found new simple method for creating them that even children could do. Kayo is a psychologist who researches child's play and he has written many academic papers on the way children who make dorodango grow and learn from taking pride in this simple activity.

Making hikaru dorodango may be child's play, but it can look deceptively simple. However once you start making them, you find yourself getting absorbed into the art of creating a beatiful object from the most humble of materials. Turning dirt into objects of art with nothing but water and your own two hands is a simple pleasure, but a very rewarding one indeed. These polished shiny dirt balls epitomise the idea of refinement.

Creating different coloured hikaru dorodango is as simple as choosing the kind of dirt you start with. Different coloured sands will reveal differntly coloured polished balls at the end of the process.