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Goin’ Japanesque!

Netsuke: Indispensable Item for Edo Kimono Fashion

Long ago in Japan there was a small accessory called a netsuke, used when donning a kimono. Even now, netsuke can fetch enormous prices owing to their artistry, with some netting tens of millions of yen. For those who have never even heard the term, today we’re going to tell you a little about netsuke and examine their historical background.


What are netsuke?

During the Edo era, people hung their tobacco pouches, portable cases, carry-bags and so on from their belts with lengths of cord, which would be held in place with fasteners called netsuke. They had to be cleverly constructed so as to not get caught up with the belt during use. Recognized as an aspect of fashion as well, there was much emphasis put on netsuke design.



Why were they made?

Simply put, kimono didn’t have pockets, so everyone of the Edo era looked like this when they went out walking with their articles.



Netsuke materials included animal horn like ivory and “unicorn” (narwhal horn) as well as Japanese boxtree. All of these are incredibly expensive materials, and historically it could be terribly difficult to acquire one.


A variety of well-crafted netsuke



What about netsuke nowadays?

Japanese people love having lots of little items connected and clattering together. The fad for attaching accessories to cell phones got its start in Japan, and it’s believed that cell phone charms and trinkets have their origin in netsuke.


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