Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke


June 15th - July 9th
(Closed July 1st - 3rd)

Monday - Saturday: 10 AM - 4 PM, Sunday: 11 AM - 3 PM
Free Admission
At Information and Culture Centre Lobby, Embassy of Japan in Canada

(No on-site parking available on weekends.)

Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke, the Japan Foundation's traveling exhibition, is an innovative contemporary crafts exhibition presenting 65 works by contemporary netsuke carvers and artists. A netsuke is a non-slip toggle that has been used since the Edo period (1603-1868) to secure the small personal items such as money pouches, inrō (medicine container), or tobacco containers worn suspended on cords from the obi (a sash worn with kimono). These practical objects were created by and for the common people and greatly enjoyed by them. As Western clothing was adopted from the Meiji period (1868-1911) on, however, netsuke disappeared from daily life in Japan. Meanwhile, with the interest in Japonisme in Europe and America in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, netsuke came to be exported in large numbers and were highly regarded as art or craft objects in other countries. In Japan, meanwhile, some netsuke enthusiasts and carvers managed to keep the tradition alive. Since the 1970s, a new genre, contemporary netsuke, has taken shape, inspired by new sensibilities and ideas. Today, contemporary netsuke carvers continue to ply their craft, steadily producing to new works.

This exhibition focuses on contemporary netsuke. We hope that visitors will explore the subtle and highly artistic skills, and playfulness, embodied in netsuke and consider the practicality and charm of netsuke today, when they are not longer part of everyday life. The netsuke has been called a tactile craft. Nare in Japanese, and perhaps “patina” in English, changes that arise over time from actually touching them, is regarded as a distinctive resonance that makes netsuke rich and vital. 

Bokusen Takagi Scull 2014 Zenmai Onosato A Tengu's Nose 2017 Izumi Kato Untitled 2017 Motomasa Kurita Auspicious Sign 2017


Related Video: Netsuke - Art Piece that Sits on the Palm