THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF JAPANESE NETSUKE AND OJIMA
This is a really fascinating subject covering these wonderful little works of art that originated in Japan in the 17th Century.
The Japanese Kosode and Kimono garments had no pockets so the men that wore these garments needed somewhere to put their personal belongings. And so the Inro was invented to carry these belongings. The Inro is a small box that was then held shut by a sliding bead, the Ojima and the whole thing was fastened to the securing cord using a carved button like toggle, which is the Netsuke.
There is now no longer an absolute necessity to wear Kosode or Kimono garments in Japan, other than perhaps for ceremonial occasions, but the Netsuke was adopted as a beautiful work of art by Westerners once the trade routes to Japan opened up.
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Netsuke began to be made for export specifically to the Western market and are still being produced today by highly skilled craftsment in Japan.
There are many legends, and much symbology, in the creatures that are used for the Netsuke ornaments:
THE LEGEND OF THE FROG