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]

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    

Unusual Antique Japanese Mixed Metal Silver Covered BoxSigned Antique Japanese Sterling Silver Vesta Case Matchsafe Match Book BoxFine Quality Antique Japanese Cloisonne Covered Box Japanese Meiji Cloisonne Box Silver Wire Egret Flying Over Water Bamboo AntiqueRare Museum Japanese Antique Signed Sterling Silver Box By K. Hattori JapanFine Antique Japanese Signed Solid Silver Bonbonniere Box.Antique Japanese Meiji Period Cloisonne Lock Box C1900sLovely Solid Silver Japanese Cigarette Case 900 Sterling Mount Fuji Japan.Japanese Black & Gold Maki-e Lacquer Trinket Jewellery Ornate Flower Box Tl4: Vintage Japanese Lacquered Wooden Writing Box With Signed Wooden Box, CraneAntique Japanese Finely Engraved With Gold 24k Cigarette Case ~ LargeAntique Japanese 10-move Marquetry Puzzle Box With "musical Notes" Drawer InsideAntique Japanese Satsuma Porcelain Incense Burner Lidded Box, Quality PieceJapanese Meiji Period Snuff Box Mixed Metal Brass & Silver Applied Floral MotifsFine Antique Japanese Maki-e Lacquer Silver Mounts Chest Of Drawers Signed MeijiNice Pair Of Antique Old Japanese Silver Footed Boxes With MarksF6105: Japanese Lacquer Ware Wooden Tray/plate Senchabon 5pcs, W/box A933: Real Japanese Old Lacquer Ware Storage Box With Popular Korin Makie A930: Japanese Old Smallish Tier Of Lacquered Boxes Jubako W/good Flower MakieF5974:japanese Wooden Lacquer Ware Inkstone Case Box Calligraphy ToolJapan Antique Gold Makie Box Case Samurai Tsuba Koshirae Tsuka Armor TokugawaJapanese Old Wooden Drawer Box Ko-tansu/ Good Wood Grain/ Tamamoku/ 6420F881: Japanese Wooden Lacquer Ware Dessert Plate Tray/dish,auto W/signed BoxJapanese Mecanical Cigarette Dispenser, Beautiful Inlaid Wood DesignsVintage Old Japanese Cinnabar Carved Red Lacquer Lidded Cigarette Box W/trayF1827: Japanese Wooden Paulownia Tea Ceremony BoxAntique Japanese Inlaid Marquetry Puzzle Box Cabinet A/fF6215: Japanese Wooden Paulownia Tea Ceremony Box Traveling ChestF5814: Japanese Wooden Lacquer Ware Plate/dish 5pcs,auto W/signed BoxF1588: Japanese Wooden Lacquer Ware Incense Container Shiho Made W/signed BoxF5934: Japanese Bamboo Wajima Lacquer Tea Spoon Fseiseki Made W/signed BoxFine Antique Japanese Meiji Painted Willow Tree Round Lidded Box With Mop InlayFine Antique Meiji Japanese Gilt Painted Rabbit Wood Lacquer Tobacco Tea Box A999: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Plate Made From Kiri. B085: Japanese Lmulberry Wooden Storage Box For Tea Tools Chabako W/good TasteAntique Wooden Chinese Qing / Japanese Meiji Card Box With Metal Appliques C1890 B085: Japanese Lacquerware Storage Box For Tea Tools Chabako Japanese Antique C1838 Chant Book Wood Buddhist Lacquered Storage "okyo Ire" BoxF1823:japanese Wooden Lacquerware Inkstone Case Box Suzuribako Calligraphy ToolF1615: Japanese Wooden Flower Butterfly Gold Lacquer Pattern Lunch Box B061: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Vase Or Bottle Made From Kiri. Shiho-san A998: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Tea Bowl Made From Kiri. Shiho-san 2 A997: Japanese Wooden Storage Box For Tea Bowl Made From Kiri. Shiho-san 1 F1361: Japanese Wooden Inkstone Case Box Suzuribako Calligraphy Tool.Japanese Antique C1843 Edo Takatsuki Buddhist Shrine Article Lacquered Wood BoxAntique Wooden Box With Japanese Scene On The FrontFine Signed Antique Meiji Japanese Gilt Painted Koi Goldfish Lacquer Box 3d FishJapanese Wooden Box For Porcelain VaseWood Carving Thread Japanese Wood Carving Thread Japanese Tea Caddy Pot BoxAntique Japanese Oriental Lacquered Box Wood - Papier Mache - Tea CaddyBeautiful Antique Japanese Lacquer Pierced Meiji Square Plate W/signed Makie Box