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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1775-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, silver and black hiramakie and togidashie lacquer

  • Credit Line:

    Pfungst 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 inro is decorated with a view of the Yodo River showing the names of various towns on tiny plaques. The Yodo River runs from Lake Biwa, through Kyoto and Osaka to the sea. From the early 17th century it was used to transport mail by boat. Designs of this type are all the more remarkable considering their size, the detail of decoration and the technical skills required to realise them.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


ca. 1775-1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, silver and black hiramakie and togidashie lacquer


Height: 7.6 cm, Width: 5.4 cm, Depth: 2.3 cm

Descriptive line

Inro depicting the Yodo river in gold, silver and black hiramakie and togidashie lacquer, ca. 1775 - 1850



Subjects depicted

Boats; Rivers


Accessories; Containers; Lacquerware


East Asia Collection

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