Japanese Antique Inlay Jewelry Box

Antique Hakone Handmade Cantilever Inlay Accordion Jewelry Box | Hakone Marquetry Box | Meiji Era



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 4-5/8” w x 3-1/2”d x 3-1/2”h

Hakone Yosegi Zaiku Inlay Jewelry Box having beautiful and elaborate images: on the top accented with Black Persimmon wood to create Mt. Fuji, Pines and water, and the front, a Song Bird amongst branches of Bamboo and Cherry Tree created from bitterwood. The main piece is made of dark brown walnut. The uniqueness of the piece is that it depicts Mount Fuji and the Hakone mountain chain. Comes with its original Red Padouk wood stand. This piece was not made for export and sold only to the Japanese traveler at the height of Hakone woodworking. 

This antique piece was purchased at a Hakone antique dealer in the mid 1970s. The piece retains its original forged and naturally patinated drawer straps, decorative handle, decorative locking plate and slide locking device. The inlay motif is by a technique called Yosegi zaiku, (“Yosegi" means "combined wood", and "Zaiku" means an intricate work), the name represents the process of combining various shapes and sizes of wood into this outstanding crafted patterns made by hand.

Condition: Exceptional working condition, beautiful patinated and retains the original craftsmanship with no repairs or replaced parts. There is a short hairline crack on the lid from age that does not interfere with its function, stability, or visual appreciation. The design is well-balanced, firmly put together, with no scarp or malformed edges, and a beautiful color contrast accenting the diverse motifs incorporated into the piece. 

NOTE: The Hakone-Odawara area has always had a rich nature with abundant wooden materials. The mountains here are one of the very few places in Japan with such a wide variety of different sorts all together. Most works today are crafted with materials specially selected from “The Hakone Sanctuary”, which holds a high number of perfectly colored trees. The Japanese government officially designated Hakone woodworking as a traditional craft in 1984 by the Japanese Minister of International Trade and Industry. 

About 200 years ago, craftsman Jinbei Ishikawa developed the present wood mosaic skill, which combined with the prosperity of the Hakone-Odawara area and the residence of several craftsman in the area resulted in a boom of the craft’s industry, especially as local souvenirs. Throughout the Meiji era, wood mosaic craft developed through advanced techniques, a wider variety of patterns and new applied products, especially when in the 1870’s, craftsman from nearby province Shizuoka introduced their local marquetry skills and together combined even more sophisticated designs.  

Yosegi mosaic patterns were applied on wooden boxes, which makes the finalized craft not only beautiful, but also a conversation piece. Furthermore, the beauty not only lies in the different colors and type of wood, but even more so in recognizing the huge amount of dedication it requires for a craftsman to design and craft the highly complex mosaic patterns and overall design and function.