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Inro, ojime, netsuke
  • Inro, ojime, netsuke
    Hara Yoyusai, born 1772 - died 1845
  • Enlarge image

Inro, ojime, netsuke

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800-1845 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hara Yoyusai, born 1772 - died 1845 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, silver and black takamakie and hiramakie lacquer

  • Credit Line:

    Alexander Gift

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The inro is a container made up of tiers. Japanese men used them because the traditional Japanese garment, the kimono, had no pockets. From the late 1500s onwards, Japanese men wore the inro suspended from their sash by a silk cord and a netsuke (toggle). They originally used it to hold their seal and ink or a supply of medicines. However, it rapidly became a costly fashion accessory of little or no practical use. Most inro are rectangular with gently curving sides.
Lacquer was most commonly used in the manufacture of inro since it was highly suitable for storing medicines. Lacquer is the sap from the tree Rhus verniciflua that grows mainly in East Asia. After processing, it is applied in many thin layers to a base material. The craft of lacquering, as well as making inro bodies, is highly complex, time-consuming and expensive. This example is decorated with geese and reeds in gold, silver and black takamakie (literally high-sprinkled picture) and hiramakie (literally flat-sprinkled picture)lacquer.
From the 1700s onwards, many artists signed the inro they made. This example is signed Hara Yoyusai (1772-1845), after a design by Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828). Hoitsu was a great admirer of the works of the versatile artist and craftsman, Ogata Korin (1688-1703), and was responsible for a number of books that reproduced Korin’s designs. In addition, Hoitsu worked closely with the lacquer artist, Yoyusai, often providing designs for his work. Hoitsu’s design for this inro, dated 1834, is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


ca. 1800-1845 (made)


Hara Yoyusai, born 1772 - died 1845 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gold, silver and black takamakie and hiramakie lacquer


Height: 8.5 cm, Width: 5.1 cm, Depth: 2.1 cm

Descriptive line

Inro depicting geese in gold, silver and black takamakie and hiramakie lacquer, by Hara Yoyusai, ca. 1800 - 1845



Subjects depicted



Accessories; Containers; Lacquerware


East Asia Collection

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