Art & Design

In a Nutshell: Japanese netsuke from European collections

5 April - 12 June 2013, London

The Embassy of Japan is hosting a stunning collection of over two hundred netsuke gathered from a number of private collections in Europe and the World Museum, Liverpool until 31 May. Most of the pieces have never been on public display before, including a certain small ivory hare.

Edmund de Waal’s family memoir, The Hare With Amber Eyes, told through the history of a collection of netsuke, introduced a whole new audience to these marvels of Japanese craftsmanship and this exhibition offers the visitor the opportunity to see the eponymous hare for the first time seen alongside other remarkable examples of Edo- and Meiji-period netsuke.


Netsuke are the result of Japanese Edo-period (1603-1868 CE) clothing having no pockets. During this time, a simple wrap-around robe (kimono), held in place by a sash (obi) was worn by Japanese men and women. While women might have carried objects in their wide sleeves, men carried small items such as inr? (medicine or seal containers), tobacco, writing sets and purses suspended on cords from their obi. These often decorative hanging accessories, for which fashion mattered as much as function, were kept in place by a small intricately carved toggle called a netsuke.

A fascination with all things Japanese developed in 19th-century Europe and netsuke proved to be ideal collectors’ items providing a small glimpse of far-off Japan. Today, they bring as much pleasure and enchantment as they did when they were first made in Edo-period Japan.

The exhibition is open to the public on weekdays (excluding bank holidays), 09:30 to 17:30 at the Embassy of Japan until 12 June 2013.


Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy

5 April - 12 June 2013

The Embassy of Japan in the UK, 101 - 104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT

The Embassy of Japan in the UK