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 17th 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    

Japanese Antique Vestal Match Holder Shibayama Wasp Snail BugJapan 1800's Meiji Silvered Bronze Copper Tobacciana Cigar Box Export Fish YqzAntique Japanese Artist Signed Miniature Painting Satsuma Covered Jar Box SensorGreat C1900 Japanese Meiji 950 Sterling Silver Mixed Metal Tiger Cigarette CaseAntique Japanese Taisho Era 5 Drawer Document Chest Solid Paulownia Wood TansuVintage Japanese Haribako Sewing Box Tansu Jewelery Box With Secret DrawerVintage Japanese 950 Sterling Silver & Mixed Metal Aesthetic Box SignedFull Set Of 7 Japanese Antique Staggered Storage Lacquered Cedar Wedding BoxesAntique 19thc Japanese Meiji Hand Carved Cow Bone Monkey Macaque Snuff Patch BoxJapanese Antique 150+ Year Old Edo Era Wooden Suzuribako Calligraphy TansuYg5: Japanese Lacquered Woodcarving Noh & Kagura Mask, Otafuku, Okame With BoxVintage Japanese Lacquered Storage Box W Tray / Tansu / Solid WoodB564: Real Old Japanese Lacquer Ware Tiered Food Boxes Jubako W/fantastic MakieJapanese Haribako Sewing Box Tansu Jewelery Box W Secret Stash Box Antique 19thc Japanese Meiji Hand Carved Cow Bone 3 Wise Monkey Trefoil StatueB444: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Flower Vase Popular Kiri. Shiho-zan Wonderful Antique 19th Century Japanese Lacquerware Incense Burner, Silver TopOld Japanese Sakurai Sterling 950 Silver Double Coin Pill Box SignedJapanese Antique Urushi Makie Takaashi Ozen Wooden Tray Sake Cups Set With BoxAntique Oriental Chinese Japanese Lacquer Box X 3 Set Gilded Design CollectableAntique Victorian 19th C "faux Ivory" Carved Japanese Box Rare Superb ConditionB443: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Bowl Popular Kiri. Shiho-zan Group Antique Japanese Metalwares; Two Cast Metal Boxes And Two Napkin RingsJapanese Antique 120 Year Old Meiji Era Cryptomeria Wood Lidded Presentation BoxB458: Rare! Real Old Japanese Lacquer Ware Tiered Food Boxes Jubako With MakieD3067 Cjmc Japanese Antique Gold Makie Raden Hawk Stand/writing Desk Rare Japanese Genuine Signed Antique Box Wood Netsuke Monkey Detail No ReserveJapanese Antique 3 Drawer Tansu BoxB516: Japanese Wooden Rectangle Tobacco Tray Tabako-bon Made From Karaki.B515: Japanese Wooden Tobacco Tray Tabako-bon Made From Karaki Good Openwork.Japanese Koi Carp Lacquered And Ceramic Jewellery Trinket Box Collectable RareJapanese Antique Keyaki Zelkova Wooden Lidded Senkou Incense BoxJapanese Signed Vintage 80 Year Old Cryptomeria Wood Lidded Sakazuki BoxJapanese Antique 150 Year Old Cryptomeria Wood 2 Section Lidded Storage Box Antique Chinese/japanese Metal Dragons Trinket Box With Dragons,damagedVintage Wooden Japanese Musical Puzzle Box Japanese Signed Antique 100 Year Old Cryptomeria Wood Lidded Box TansuVintage 1940s Japanese Mechanical Cigarette Dispenser Box Case Copper ElephantAntique Japanese Military Ww2 Transport Horse Chrysanthemum Box Army Sake BottleWooden Measuring Box / 5 Gou Masu / Japanese / VintageEstate - Antique Japanese Lacquer Box Melon Shaped Floral Butterfly Motif 8 InchYj4: Vintage Japanese Small Wooden Multitiered Box With HandleVintage Wooden Valet Jewelry Box Made In Japan With DrawerVintage Japanese Drawer Box Tansu W Quartz Alarm Clock & Handle Japan Natrl WoodVintage Japanese Tea Box "chabako" Waterproof Tin Lined Cedar ChestAntique 19thc Meiji Japanese Eport Lacquer Papier Mache Box Hand Painted SignedVintage Handpainted Japanese Jewelry Music Box