Rare Vintage Japanese Hakone Yosegi-Zaiku Trinket Box

This wonderful Zougan (Marquetry) trinket box with mirror came from Hakone-machi, Ashigara-Simo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture. In the latter years of the Edo period, craftsmen combined the exotic woods grown in the Hakone Mountain with traditional mosaic work, precisely utilizing the trees’ grain, and bark and think planking. The main woods used in this specific marquetry process are Aohada, dogwood, Nigaki, Pagoda, Cherry, Zelkova, Keyaki-Jindai, Hinoki and Katsura-Jindai.

The woods noted above provide diverse natural colors for the craftsman, and are inlaid on top of a base to produce a certain geometric picture block. This picture block is shaved into thin sheets and affixed to the box (Bako) as an ornamental element. This process is very intricate and timely and combines Yosegi (Parquetry) patterns: Kikkou Kuroasa, Ichimatsu, Akaasa and Koyosgi that were developed over 100 years ago.

Takajiro Ohkawa-san, Tatsunosuke Okiyama-san, and Kikukawa-san were known to be the first generation Yosegi Zaiku master craftsmen, creating their work in the 1870s. This particular box incorporates not only multiple geometric patterns on the exterior surfaces (except on the back of the piece), but a hand-painted landscape motif on the front of the interior drawers, with prosperity symbols as drawer pulls (which may be a later addition), that are enclosed with functional tambour doors. Being a miniature piece of furniture, one of the unique features of this piece is a flip-up mirror. All in perfect condition, and made around 1947 (stamped Made in Japan).

This one craft was and remains highly valued both inside and outside Japan where most pieces were once sold in Chaya (tea) shops when travelers took a rest while enjoying the surrounding Hakone mountain scenery. Dimensions: 5 ¾”w x 3 ½”d x 6-0”h.

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