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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    mid 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shoju-ya, Shoshichi (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching the cord. In this example, there are a pair of holes (himotoshi) on the bottom of the sandal. Although netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated is the katabori (shape carving). This is a three-dimensional carving, such as this netsuke of a fox on a cloud.

The fox in Japanese mythology and folklore is both the God Inari of rice and crop protection as well as a mischievous ambivalent creature that could shape shift into human form. This netsuke depicts the God Inari walking above the clouds and could possibly have been worn as a good luck charm either for success in agriculture or fertility.

From the 18th century onwards, many more makers signed their netsukes. This example is signed Shoju.

Physical description

Netsuke in wood of a fox on cloud, signed by Shoju

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


mid 18th century (made)


Shoju-ya, Shoshichi (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood

Marks and inscriptions

Signed Shoju


Height: 3.81 cm, Length: 3.49 cm

Descriptive line

Netsuke, wood, fox on cloud, signed Shoju, mid 18th century, Japan








East Asia Collection

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