Decorative Japanese boxes include everything from lacquer containers to ones embellished in cloisonné. Although lacquering techniques are thought to have originated in China, while cloisonné is considered a product of what is now Turkey, both were elevated to a fine art in Japan.

Lacquerware was a natural for Japan since the lacquer tree, whose sap is used to produce the resinous coating, is found in many parts of the island nation. Japanese lacquerware began to differentiate itself from its Chinese forebear, though, in the eighth and ninth centuries, when techniques such as maki-e (the practice of mixing powdered gold or silver into the lacquer) and inlay using shell or mother-of-pearl became popular with the royals. Objects made of lacquerware included writing boxes, incense containers, and boxes for stationery, documents, or toiletries. Smaller, portable lacquered boxes called inro were secured to the sashes that bound a wearer’s kimono, often by a tiny carving called netsuke.

Cloisonné actually arrived rather late in Japan, probably no earlier than the 16th century, and cloisonné boxes were not common until the middle of the 19th, when Westerners were obsessed with “the Orient,” spawning in Europe a decorative style called Japonisme. In Japanese, cloisonné artisans frequently used flowers such as peonies and chrysanthemums as their design motifs, as well as birds such as doves and cranes.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Japanese Export Shibayama Calling Card Case Meiji PeriodRare Antique Japanese Export Shibayama Insect Inlaid Rectangular Box Meji PeriodAntique Japanese Vintage Pictorial Cigarette Cheroot Trinket Desktop BoxAntique Japanese 90 Yr Old Signed 5 Drawers Paulownia Kiri-kodansu Tansu ChestAntique Victorian Japanese Lacquer Mop Inlaid Jewellery / Sewing Chest Box TlcSmall Antique Japanese Cloisonne Covered Tea Caddy/ginger Jar, NrKwl Japanese Antique Lacquered Wood Lunch Box Bento Jubako Oju Gold Gilt 2 Lid Small Antique Signed Japanese Hallmarked Sterling & Cloisonne Round Box, Nr5kwl Japanese Vtg Kan-nushi Set Shinto Priest Hat Kanmuri Wood Stick Shaku Box Antique Japanese Lacquer BoxSmall Wooden Medicine Box / "jintan" / Japanese / AntiqueCharming Japanese Incised And Applied Brass Box And Cover, Meiji C.1900F827: Japanese Wooden Ware Tobacco Tray Made From Popular Karaki W/good OpenworkJapanese Meiji Era 100 Year Old Antique Sugi Wood Presentaton Box Sliding DoorExtremely Rare Antique Xix Japanese Satsuma Wedding Box W/ 5 Pieces Meiji SignedF629: Japanese Lacquer Ware Ink Stone Case Good Design Of Persimmon And Sparrow5kwl Japanese Vtg Kan-nushi Set Shinto Priest Hat Eboshi Wood Stick Shaku Box NrF738: Real Old Japanese Lacquer Ware Tiered Food Boxes Jubako With Makie And Box Japanese Vintage Wood Carving Lacquer Kamakurabori Box Pine Tree Design SignedF646: Japanese Lacquer Ware Small Circular Tiered Food Boxes Jubako 9" Antique Japanese Lacquered Painted Bird Floral Mini Jewelry Chest Drawers Nr F630: Japanese Wood Carving Ware Accessory Case With Good Sculpture Work Antique Japanese Fan Box With Fan & Lacquered Glove Box..............rf.900146629# Japanese Lacquer Ware / Lunch Box / Lacquered / Makie / Pine Japanese Vintage Wood Lacquered Suzuribako Writing Box Flower&bird Makie F506: Real Old Japanese Lacquer Ware Teabox Chabako With Crest MakieAntique Japanese '6 Sun' Large Marquetry Puzzle Box - Double ActionJapanese Antique Meiji Era Box Wood Name Stamp InkanF919: Japanese Wooden Tobacco Tray Made From Popular Karaki With Good OpenworkF610: Japanese Lacquer Ware Tiered Food Boxes Jubako By Famous Zohiko NishimuraPure Silver Toothpick Case Of A Fan-type. #54g/ 1.90oz. Japanese Antique. Vintage Japanese Puzzel Box With Marquetry Scenes On Lid And Bottom46705# Japanese Tea Ceremony / Chabako (tea Utensil Box) / Tame-nuri / Lacquer 19th Century Antique Japanese Carved Box With Incredible Details48413# Japanese Kimono / Antique Kimono / Embroidery / Letter Box & FlowerC880: Japanese Zelkova Woooden Serving Bowl Box Torikomibon, SenchaSuperb & Unusual Green Lacquered Wooden Box Japan Meiji 1900s Dragon