We provide a comprehensive glossary of relevant terms.

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Ainu An aboriginal race of Caucasians whose dwindling population is centered around Shiraoi in Hokkaido
Akae Porcelain with over glaze polychrome enamel with red
Akikusa Fall season’s herbs and flowers
Amida Buddha The Buddha who presides over the Pure Land
Aoi – No – Mon Family’s crest of Tokugawa clan (Tokugawa Period 1603 – 1868)
Asakusa A section of Tokyo famous for its amusements and entertainment. It formerly included the notorious Yoshiwara and was the home of Kokusai.
Ashi A reed
Badger teakettle Emblem of a popular folk tale about a badger who disguised himself as a teakettle. When the priest put the kettle on to boil, the badger could not stand the heat and reverted to his true form, the kettle’s legs turning into paws and the spout into his heal.
Basho The most eminent of the haiku poets, a group credited with exerting a strong influenced on many of the netsuke carvers
Bekko Tortoise shell
Benkei A large and powerful mountain priest who became the faithful retainer of the medieval hero Yoshitsune
Benten Goddess of music, the only woman among the seven happy gods
Bento A lunch box
Bizen An unglazed stoneware produced near Okayama
Bon A tray
Boxwood A hard, fine close-grained wood much used by netsuke carvers
Budou (Budo – Kan) The way, thought which Samurai should follow, (Bushi do)
Budo – Kan = Building in Tokyo the stage of Sumo wrestling
Bugaku An ancient form of music and dance drama performed with masks
Byobu Folding screen
Cha no yu Tea ceremony or way of tea. It encompassed the tea ceremony and the connoisseurship of the fine and applied arts, as well as the study of literature, flower arranging, garden design, architecture, and Kaiseki cuisine that are associated with it.
Chagama Iron kettle for tea
Cha-ire Pottery or porcelain tea jar or tea caddy
Chuban Size of Woodblock print- Ukiyoe Hanga
Chu – Natsume Medium size of Natsume
Daikoku One of the seven happy gods, representing the wealth of the land. He wears hood, holding a Kozuchi (A small mallet: The symbol of Daikokuten  When shaken by the god, this mallet is supposed to grant all wishes.) in his right hand, carrying treasure bag on his back and  sitting on rice bales.
Daimyo Lords in feudal Japan
Dou -sei Made from copper
Ebisu One of the Seven Happy Gods, usually portrayed with a sea bream
Echizen – Nuri
Edo (Tokugawa era) The name of the period from 1603 to 1867, when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa family; hence, also known as the Tokugawa Period
Emma-o King of hell
Fuchigashira Top and bottom of sword hilt.
Fudo Myo-o Buddhist deity and chief of the Five great kings of Light
Fuki Chomei
Fukurokuju God of wisdom and one of the Seven Happy Gods.
Funa danse Sea chest
Futaoki Lid rest of tea ceremony utensil
Gagaku Ceremonial music and dance usually reserved for the aristocracy
Gaho Name of the Artist
Gama Sennin Taoist forest or mountain dweller who remains youthful to an inordinate age and whose attribute is the toad.
Genji Episodes Episodes from The Take of Genji, the celebrated eleventh-Century novel by Murasaki Shikibud
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Hagi Bush clover, one of the seven Grasses of Autumn
Hagoita A battledore for New year’s game
Hake-e Painted by brush
Hake Shino Shino wear with motif of the brush
Haiku A formalized seventeen-syllable poem. It is terse, subtle, seasonable, and swift in its imagery
Haisen Stem Bowl for Sake cup rinsing
Hako Netsuke of box – and – cover
Hakuji White porcelain
(Kake) Hanaire A flower basket…. Kake Hanaire = Hanging flower basket
Hanga A woodcut, a wood block print
Hanko A stamped or impressed seal requiring the requiring of a seal carved in reverse in some hard material, and the use of seal pastes. It is thus distinguished from the kakihan, a seal written directly on the paper or silk in the case of painting or carved directly on the object in the case of sculpture.
Harimaze Techniques of affixing objects like fans to screens
Haritsu (Ritsuo) Style A famous lacquer artist of the early eighteenth century. His designs were highly original and were often embellished with inlays of porcelain or pewter
Heiando- sei Made by Heiando
Hibatchi A Japanese heating appliance using charcoal as fuel
Himotoshi channel or passage for cord that holds inro and netsuke together
Hinoki cypress
Hiramakie Known as low relief, this techniques was introduced in the Kamakura period. A single layer of lacquer is applied to the ground, sprinkled with gold or silver powders, and allowed to dry. A coat of thin lacquer is then applied to fix the particles, and given a final polish.
Hira – Natsume Flash shaped Natsume
Hirame Flakes of gold, silver, koban, and tin, thicker and heavier than nashiji flakes
Hironobu Born 1844 Worked in Meiji Period.
Student of First Hironobu.
Hokyo Korin
Hotei One of the Seven Happy Gods. He is the Japanese Santa Claus. He has a huge belly, laughs constantly, loves children, and carries a treasure bag of gifts.
Ichii Yew wood, a favorite material for souvenir carvings of the Takayama district because of its pleasing two – tone grain
Iga Stoneware from Iga area
Ikada A raft
Ikebana The Japanese art of flower arrangement
Imari Type of porcelain made by kilns operating around Arita in Kyushu.
Ino A wild boar
Inro A portable, tiered medicine container worn suspended from the sash of the kimono. Originally these objects are thought to have functioned as cases for the owner’s personal seal and ink, and some inro equipped are still extant.
Ireko Nested container
Iroe Technique of making colored pictures by inlaying metals of various hues.
Jubako Stacked food box
Junishi The twelve zodiacal signs.
Ne = Rat, Ushi = Ox, Tora = Tiger, U = Hare ,Tatsu = Dragon, Mi = Snake, Uma = Horse, Hitsuji = Sheep, Saru = Monkey, Tori = Cock, Inu = Dog, I = Boar.
Jurojin The god of wisdom among the Seven Happy Gods. He is represented with an elongated head to contain his massive brain and is often portrayed with a deer, a crane, or a turtle.
Kabuki A picture (color print) of everyday life in the Edo period. “Paintings of the floating world”; ukiyoe constituted a genre art style that flourished from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Ukiyoe prints depicted themes from the life of common townspeople, landscapes, Kabuki actors, geisha, and suchlike
Kagamibuta A type of netsuke consisting of a metal lid fitted in a bowl made of ivory or some other material
Kagura Sacred ceremonial dances, usually performed at Shinto shrines
Kakejiku (Kakemono) Hanging scroll
Kakemono Hanging scroll with painting or calligraphy or both
Kaki urushi
Kakihan Written or carved seal of monogram as distinguished from a stamped or impressed seal
Kanji Chinese characters adopted by the Japanese in their written language. Most Kanji have two basic pronunciations, one Japanese (kundoku), the other Japanized pronunciation of the Chinese (Ondoku) . In addition there are often second and third alternate readings. These various readings present a formidable obstacle to the collector trying to decipher a netsuke signature. Familiarity with the signature as a display is the usual method of learning.
Kannon A Buddha who is revered as the goddess of mercy in Japan and connected with the Lotus Sutra; there are numerous, varying representations of Kannon
Kannon biraki front – opening double- doors chest
Kano school School of screen painting begun in the Muromachi period and lasting until the end of the Edo period
Karako Literally, “Chinese child” or “Chinese children”.
Karakusa Arabesques in floral patterns
Karamatsu Chinese pine
Karamono Chinese article or Chinese – style article, also known as tohbutsu
Katami Gawari A momoyama design motif resembling a lightning bolt
Karatsu Pottery from Karatsu area
Katamono Kogo Sometsuke
Kanzan Jittoku Jittoku: one of the Four Sleepers (the others being Kanzan, Bukan, Zenshi, and a tiger); he carries a scroll, which he is reading to Kanzan.
Zittoku: Another of the Four Sleepers, he carries a broom.
Kensui tea ceremony utensil
Keyaki Zeilova wood, prized for furniture making
Kiji – Rinka
Kiku gata The shape or of chrysanthemum
Kikyo Bluebell or balloon flower one of the seven grasses of Autumn
Kimono Traditional Japanese clothes
Kimpaku Thin kanagai gold foil
Kimpun Gold power
Kinji A heavily sprinkled, powered – gold ground that takes on a shiny finish when polished. This technique was introduced in the late Edo period.
Kinji – Makie Gold Makie
Kinrande Porcelain with overgraze polychrome enamel with gold
Kinrinji Type of lacquer finish
Kintsunagi Using gold for restoration, mostly for ceramics
Kiri, Kiri -wood A paulownia
Kiseru Smoking Pipe
Ki – Seto Yellow colored Seto wear
Kiyomizu A type of pottery made in Kyoto
Kji The core, form, or base of a lacquer object, usually made of wood
Kobako Incense box. Usually larger than a kogo.
Kochi Pottery from Vietnam
Koetsu Famous lacquer artist
Kogo Incense container
Ko – Kutani – Utsushi
Ko – Natsume Small shaped natsume
Koma A top
Konnichi – An Present grand Tea Master of Urasenke Foundation (15th Hounsai)
Korin Famous painter and lacquer artist
Korin Ogata Painter of the Tokugawa Period noted for colorful screen paintings
Kougai Ornamental hair pins with Makie work
Koyomide Desined of twelve months of the calendar for teabowl using in Chano-yu
Kugi bori Design made by nail as a carving
Kunimasa Utagawa Pupil of Toyokuni. Worked from about 1795 to about 1805. Designed some actor prints in his master’s best manner. His prints are extremely rare and are prized especially by French connoisseurs, who regard Kunimasa as a sort of lesser Sharaku. He died young and thus escaped the avalanche of degradation which descended on ukiyo-e during the early decades of the nineteenth century (1773-1810)
Kunisada Wood Block artist (1830 – 43)
Kunisada II Wood Block artist (around 1867)
Kuniteru II
Utagawa Kuniteru
Wood Block artist (around 1865)
Kuniyoshi Utagawa Kuniyoshi ; pupil of Utagawa Toyoharu, he was a skilled landscape artist whose prints show some western influence (1797 – 1861)
Kuro Black
Kuro Karatsu Black Colored Karatsu wear
Kuro – Raku Black raku wear
Kushi Comb, usually decorated by Makie
Kusunoki Masashige Medieval warrior
Kutani The porcelain products from  Kanazawa area, which have become so famous worldwide
Kutani Shozan Artist of Kutani ware (1816 – 83)
Kyoto School
Kyo yaki Kyoto ceramics
Kyogen comic interludes between Noh dramas
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Magemono -shi Craftsman who specialized in bending or shaping thin sheets of wood
Makie A sprinkling of gold. The technique of sprinkling metallic or pigmented powers on a wet lacquer ground to form a composition or design.
Manju A type of netsuke named for its similarity in shape to the manju, or round, flat rice cake.
Maru tsubo Round shaped vase
Marugata The round shape
Masanao of Ise A designation to include the Masanaos of Ise-Yamada. They are Isshinsai, Miyake II, Miyake III , Shawa, and Suzuki
Mashiko Pottery from Mashiko area
Masu (box) Measure for liquids and solids
Material of Netsuke Boar tooth, boar tusk, boxwood, hornbill ivory, ivory, kigai, lacquer, stag antler, umimatsu, umoregi, wood
Meiji From 1868A.D to 1912A.D.
Menou Agata
Mingei Folk art
Mizusashi A water jug, a pitcher, a carafe which is for  tea ceremony utensil
Mokugyo Wooden gong used in Buddhist rituals
Mokume A design technique simulating the natural grain of wood
Monme Measure of weight (3.75g) for precious materials
Musashi no zu
Musubi Noshi Design as a tie paper work for free gift wrapping
Nagamochi (Hasamiba) Hamper
Nagoya school
Nakamura Soetsu Artist for Lacquer family
Nakatsugi Type of a tea container – Natsume
Natshiko Artist name for ceramics
Natsume Lacquer tea caddy
Nagamotchi A large oblong chest (for clothing, personal effects, etc)
Negoro Red over black lacquer polished out to give a blotched effect
Netsuke Toggle attached to inro, tonkotsu, tobacco pouch, etc. by a cord and hung at the waist – also see Material of Netsuke
Noh (Play) Formalized dance – drama in which the main character (shite) wears a mask
Noren Short, divided curtain hung at the entrance of a shop and bearing its name or crest
O – ban Size of Woodblock print- Ukiyoe Hanga, 37.5cm x 25cm approx.
Obi The sash for securing the kimono about the body. The woman’s obi is wide and stiff; the man’s, narrow and soft
Fukuro – Obi =
Maru – Obi =
Ohgi – Gata The shape of Ohg (a folding fan)
Ohara – Bon
Ohichiban The final match for victory.
Ojime Bead that slides on cord between netsuke and inro for tightening or loosing
Okame (Also know as Ofuku, Otafuku, Uzume) She is the epitome of the likable, homely housewife and is usually represented in ribald performances at village harvest festivals. Her mask is sometimes used in the Kyogen
Okame san round – faced, smiling woman, the ideal of feminine good nature
Okatomo One of the early, great netsuke carvers, famous for his animal subjects (active before 1781).
Okimono Ornament for shelf or tokonoma, As a carved object
Okina & Ona The respected way to say old man (Okina) and woman (Ona)
Oni Demon, devil, fiend. The oni form a pantheon causing winds and storms, thunder and lighting, waves and floods, or general mischief
Oribe A type of pottery produced at the Mino Kilns in Gifu. It is characterized by a green glaze and bold design
Otoshizutsu (style) The dropped or inserted part that fits into it
Raden Thick pearl – shell inlay
Raku yaki Raku ware, a type of pottery produced in Kyoto
Reishi A type of mushroom for longevity
Rimpa (Style) School of painting begun during the Azuchi – Momoyama period that often used precious materials like gold and silver on screens, fans, etc
Ryusa style The carver credited with originating the type of netsuke that bears his name
Suda Seika Artist of Kutani ware (1862 – 1927)
sagi A white egret or Heron
Saigyo A Japanese traveling priest often represented with staff and pilgrim hat and viewing mount Fuji
Sakazuki A sake cup
Sansui -Zu A landscape, scenery
Satsuma (-yaki) A type of pottery and porcelain produced in Kyushu
Saya Sheath
Sennin Taoist hermits of forest and mountain who live inordinately long lives
Seto Turihana Ire Hanging flower vase in the style of Seto Kiln
Setsubun Bean – throwing celebration (after lunar new year) to expel demons and welcome good fortune
Shibayama A decorative technique in which various materials such as ivory, coral, and shell are inlaid to form the design. The techniques is named for the artist who devised it.
Shichi fuku Jin Seven happy gods,  Daikokutenn, Yebisu, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Zyurojin, Hotei
Shigisan Koma (a top) Kiln at Mt. Shigi in Nara prefecture.
Shikishi A square piece of fancy paper for writing a poem on
Shikishi bako A fitted box containing poetry writing
Shikishi Kake A hanger for Shikishi
Shikunshi The four gentlemanly plants – plum blossom, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and orchid
Shin nuri
Shino (wear)
Shiro White
Shinto The basic religion of Japan, a form of nature, spirit, and ancestor worship
Shiribari Type of tea container – Natsume
Shishi A kind of lion often appearing in pairs as guardians of Shinto shrines. The shishi is also known as the Kara-shishi( Chinese Lion) and the Koma-inu
Sho Chiku Bai Pine, bamboo and plum blossoms in combination. Symbol for auspicious occasion in Japan
Shojo – ji
Shokudai Canndle stand
Showa From 1926/12-25 to 1989/1/7
Shoshi – Bon
Sigaraki Stoneware from Shigaraki area
Soba – choko Cup for buckwheat noodle
Somada Technique of inlaying shell fragments of blue, green and violet in a lacquer ground
Sotetsu Utsushi
Sugawara, Michizana Heian – period scholar later deified as god of learning
Suimono – Wan
Sukashi bori
Sumi Black ink (India ink) used in calligraphy and painting.
Sumidagawa (yaki) The name of the river in Tokyo
Four corner shaped Kogo typical style of Katamono Kogo Sometsuke for Chano – yu
Sumie Black-ink painting
Suri Rubbed, chafed, filed, grinded, pounded
Susuki Pampas grass
Suzuri (bako) Ink stone box. A fitted box containing writing implements such as an ink stand, a water dropper , and brushes
Taisho From 1912/7/30 to 1926/12/25
Takamakie Known as high relief, this technique involves building up a design using two or more layers of lacquer or lacquer compounds. The final surface is usually decorated.
Takarabune A treasure ship
Take-e Bamboo motif
Take-ki A shape of bamboo container
Tamagushi (Tamakanz) Ornamental hair pins with gem stones
Tansu Chest of drawers with decorative hardware
Cha dansu = A cupboard for teathings
Tanuki A badger
Tatejima A vertical stripe
Tatsu no Otoshigo Sea horse
Tesage – Dansu
Teshoku Handheld candle stand
Togidashi A technique simulating a rusted iron finish.
Tokkuri A sake bottle
Tokonoma Decorative alcove of a Japanese room, where a seasonal scroll and flower arrangement are traditionally placed
Tomobako The original wooden box in which an object is stored after completion by the artist. It usually has an inscription on the lid and is signed on the inside.
Tonkotsu Distinguished from inro in several ways. The tonkotsu is a container for tobacco; the inro, for medicines. The tonkotsu usually has only a single compartment; the inro; the inro, usually more than one. Tonkotsu are most often made of wood; inro, most often of lacquer. Tonkotsu are generally bulkier and bolder; inro, smaller and more elegant. Tonkotsu were carried by the lower classes, while inro were intended for the aristocrats. Unfortunately there appears to be no article, let alone a book, devoted to tonkotsu. Literature on the subject may be nonexistent.
Toyokuni Utagawa Toyokuni; an Ukiyoe artist famous for his representations of actors (1773 – 1856)
Toyokuni III Pupil of Toyokuni. Assumed the Toyokuni name in 1844, becoming known as Toyokuni III. Designed a vast number of prints of actors and beautiful women. His later work is a reflection of the taste and customs of the closing decades of the Tokugawa period, and Kunisada was a favorite of the public at the time.(1786-1864)
Tsutsubana ire Cylinder  shaped flower vase
Turu kubi A shape of crane neck used for flower vases
Uchidashi also Copper
Ukiyoe A picture (color print) of everyday life in the Edo period
Usu A mortar
Uzumaki A spiral
Wajima – Kugibori
Yagen Grinde herbs for medicine
Yakan Tea pot
Yamabushi A mountain priest (ascetic) who sometimes engaged in politics and fight as warriors
Yamashita Kiyoshi
Yasai Kago The basket for vegetables
Yoshitsune Minamono Yoshitsune: great medieval hero who led a martial and adventurous life on behalf of the Genji clan.  Half – brother of Yoritomo ; after helping Yoritomo defeat the Taira clan, Yoshitsune fell out with his half – brother, was forced to flee, and eventually committed suicide (1159 – 1189)
Yunomi Tea cup for daily use for Japanese life style
Zabuton A floor cushion
Zen Form of Buddhism traditionally said to have been brought to Japan from China by Bodhidharma (Daruma)



Frances Bushell, Takarabukuro
Art Media Resources, Ltd., Chicago, 2001

Raymond Bushell, NETSUKE MASKS
Weatherhill, New York, Tokyo, 1985

Raymond Bushell, Netsuke Familiar & Unfamiliar New Principles for Collecting
Weatherhill, New York, Tokyo, 1975

Raymond Bushell, THE INRO HANDBOOK
Weatherhill, New York, Tokyo, 1979

Weatherhill, New York, Tokyo, 1971

Barbara Teri Okada, Symbol & Substance in Japanese Lacquer
Weatherhill, New York, Tokyo, 1995

Barbara Teri Okada, A Sprinking of Gold
The Newark Museum, 1985