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]

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 Meiji Period Hand Carved Ivory Coloured Cow Bone Tiger Box 1890Stunning Antique Japanese Meiji Period Large Rectangular Komai Style BoxSigned Meiji Japanese Shakudo Bronze Mixed Metal Shibayama Solid Silver Box RareSigned Toshimasa Meiji Japanese Shakudo/shibayama Mixed Metal Solid Silver Box18th - 19th Century Japanese Authentic Antique Makie Inro & Netsuke With Box2 Antique Japanese Meiji Period Carved "cow Bone" Boxes For Spares Or RepairAntique Meiji Japanese Damascene Komai Mixed Metal Purse Compact Box Signed H429: Japanese Old Lacquer Ware Tiered Food Boxes Jubako W/shellfish Makie.Exquisite Vintage Antique Japanese Solid Sterling Silver Pill/snuff Box JapanVintage C.1950s Japanese Inlaid Wooden Puzzle Box Mount Fuji, Open Secret DrawerVery Fine Antique Oriental Japanese Lacquer Box Interesting Figures Snuff BoxH430: Japanese Wajima Lacquer Ware Teaspoon With Good Willow Makie With Box.Beautiful Antique Japanese Meiji Period Bronze Mixed Metal Snuff Box - FlowersLarge Japanese Cloisonne Enamel Trinket Boxs, Jewelry Boxs ,cigar BoxsBeautiful Antique Japanese Meiji Period Bronze Mixed Metal Snuff Box - InsectsTe Japanese Antique Lacquered Wood Lunch Box Bento Jubako Oju Gold Gilt 2 LidH514: Japanese Old Lacquer Ware Ink Stone Case With Fantastic Makie, Nashiji W/bJapanese Cloisonne Circular Box Signed AndoJapanese Vintage Lidded Paulownia Wood Presentation BoxJapanese Antique Bronze Mirror Crane&turtle Design W/box&signed Dia21.0cmCharming Antique Japanese Antimony Chrysanth & Cherry Blossom Trinket Box 1900sJapanese Wooden Tea Box Chabitsu/ Birds On Wave/ Sencha Tea Ceremony/ 4148Silver. A Fan Type. A Toothpick Case. Decoration Box. 27g. A Japanese Antique. Antique Japanese Black Lacquer Paper Mache String Holder Box Gold FiguresStunning Antique Japanese Meiji Period Large Rectangular Komai BoxJapanese Ink Stone Jade Calligraphy Antique Box E8103eJapanese Antique Bronze Mirror Crane&turtle Design W/box&signed Dia24.2cmM236: 1950's Japanese Hakone Work, Karakuri/trick Box/himitsubako, Fujiyama.Antique Japanese Wooden Box For Tea BowlVintage Antique Folding Hand Fan Box Silk Tassel Bamboo Wood Japan Geisha SceneVintage Atomic Japanese Smoking Set Cigarette Lighter Ash Tray Japan House UsedAntique Japanese Lacquered Wood BoxVintage Signed Japnese Wajimanuri Lacquered Box With Hand Painted Flowers JapanModern Tsuba Display Box Japanese Samurai Sword Part Wood Katana WakizashiJapanese Craft Wooden Fumibako Letter Case / Box Of Paulownia Wood / Aizu Japan