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    

Vintage Japanese Komai Damascene Gilt & Silver Cigarette Case - SignedNice Antique Japanese Satsuma Covered Box Signed - Meiji PeriodAntique Cigarette Card Case Japanese Silver & Copper Shibuichi Shakudo BoxJapanese Antique Signed 1880 Meiji Paulownia Suzuribako Calligraphy Tansu ChestAntique Japanese C1900s Silver Toothpick Box Hyotan Guord Signed NakaniwaJapanese Vintage Antique Signed Statue Okimono Gold & Black Carps With Box B324Astounding Antique 19th C Japanese Meiji Dragon Tiger Gold Lacquer Picnic BoxExquisite Vintage & Signed Japanese Sterling Silver Pill/snuff Box No Reserve !Japanese Antique Lacquered Wood Lunch Box Bento Jubako Nashiji Gold Gilt 2 Lid19th C Antique Japanese Mixed Metal Pincushion Box 1800s Edo / Meiji Pin CushionAntique Japanese Imari Kinsai Nishikide Gokumitzu Gara 1825 BowlNicely Painted Antique Japanese Satsuma Pottery Covered Box With LandscapeDelightful Vintage Japanese Puzzle Box 12 Moves To OpenVintage Japanese Komai Damascene Chased Brass Cigarette CaseKml Japanese Vintage Wood Buddhist Lacquered Chant Book Storage "okyo Ire" BoxSy Japanese Old Lacquered Wood Gold Gilt Lunch Box Bento Jubako Oju Hanami BentoAntique 1800's Match Striker Safe Holder Vesta Case Box Japanese Figural Cranes Exquisite Vintage Japanese Fan Shape Solid Sterling Silver Pill/snuff Box JapanAntique 18/19th C. Japanese Gold Lacquer Box – Extremely Fine 18,19 CenturyJapanese Lacquerware Gold Makie Tea Caddy Makie W/wood Box: Faa086Exquisite Vintage Signed Antique 1920s Japanese Ando Cloisonne Scholar Box JapanAntique Japanese Samurai Sword ~ Sukashi Tsuba - Ducks & Reeds ~ With Kiri Box Fabulous Gold-gilt Wire Antique Japanese Meiji Cloisonne Box Not VaseAntique Japanese Veneered Table Chest Box- Superb Parquetry- Working Lock & KeyAntique Japanese Samurai Sword ~ Menuki - Dragons ~ With Kiri Box1800's 1900's Antique Tansu Japanese Wooden Storage Box -great History Behind ItFinely Crafted Lg Antique Japanese Tsuishu Red Lacquer Box Figural Decor MeijiAntique Japanese Samurai Sword ~ Tsuba - Clouds & Stars ~ W/ Mei ~ Kiri Box Vintage Oriental Japanese Inlaid Micro Mosaic Wood Roll Top Cigar Box Antique Japanese Samurai Sword ~ Menuki - Reclining Man ~ With Kiri Box & PillowA Japanese Oval Metal Pill Box With Calligraphy Decoration To The LidHaunted Japanese Wood Jewelry Box Shinto Vintage Mid Century Gold Brass Vintage Sterling Silver Cigaret Case. Japan Mt Fuji. Engraved Scenes. Cigarette Japanese Vintage Signed Earthenware Ikebana Flower Vase Calligraphy W Wood Box11sy Japanese Antique Lacquered Wood Lunch Box Bento Jubako Oju 3 Stories X2 NrAntique Japanese Samurai Sword ~ Tsuba ~ Shoami School ~ W/mei ~ Kiri Box Japanese Wooden Tea Box Chabitsu/ Nice Carving/ Sencha Tea Ceremony/ 1493Hrm Japanese Old Wood 2 Plate "takatsuki" Buddhist Shrine Article Lacquered BoxAntique 110+ Yr Old Japanese Paulownia Wood Makie Gold Round Tabako-bonVintage Deco Japanese Lacquer Lidded BoxVintage Japanese Lacquer Ware Stacking Round Boxes Mother-of-pearl Repair - LudAntique Japanese Meiji Cloisonne Gold Stone Footed Tea Caddy/jar/box, FlowersJapanese Vintage Karaki Ebony Wood Box Suzuribako Writing Tool Japanese Ginbari Foil Box SignedJapanese Antique Wood Lidded Storage Box."mother Of Pearl Inlay"Chinese, Japanese. Lacquer Mother Of Pearl Inlaid Cabinet. Jewelry BoxMade In Occupied Japan Silver Box Wood Liner Match Cigarette Holder Flower PicsAntique Japanese Bronze Mixed Metal Tobacco Box Owl Shape Meiji Period W TrayJapanese Antiqe Lacquer Work Ancient Document Case Box Y891#8670: Japanese Kiyomizu-ware Crane Pine Plum Pattern Food Boxes Jubako*great* 1900s Japanese 2 Piece Wooden Bento Boxes - Handmade, HandpaintedG250: Japanese Wooden Ware Tobacco Tray Made From Popular Karaki With Good RimAntique Japanese Kogo Box In Form Of Shishi Lion