Outline of Exhibition

Male and female accessories
- techniques and designs from the Edo and Meiji periods -
Chief sponsor: National Museum of Japanese History(REKIHAKU)
Joint sponsor: NHK Promotions, NHK Chiba Broadcasting Station
Duration: From Tuesday, 23 July to Sunday, 01 September 2002
Location: Special Exhibition Galleries, National Museum of Japanese History [How to access to REKIHAKU]

Included in the admission charge for the permanent exhibitions

展示ポスター

Exhibition theme

Various kinds of accessories such as bags and pouches, seal cases, and hair ornaments that were fashionable during at the Edo period (1603-1868) through the Meiji period (1868-1912) throw into relief the rich cultural life that prospered mainly in Japan's cities and the elaborate craft techniques that were developed to unparalleled levels.

Over the many centuries that people have adorned themselves these adornments have performed an important role in the spiritual history of the people. Rather than being used as accessories, they were originally used more for their magical properties of protecting the wearer from evil and also as an indicator of a person's social status. However, by the early modern period the aesthetic side to these accessories had developed to the extent that greater importance was placed on their decorative qualities rather than their practical uses.

Individuality and flair were 'de rigueur' not only among the warrior class but amongst the townspeople as well, resulting in the utilization of techniques that were developed to sophisticated levels and the refinement of decorations used for accessories. The unconventional and witty designs and elaborate techniques using a wide range of materials and methods from the past may well appear refreshing to a citizen of the early 21st century.

This exhibition takes a close look at the world of Japanese adornments while explicating the roles and characteristics of accessories such as bags and pouches, seal cases, and hair ornaments that were used during the Edo period through to the Meiji period - during which time the kimono came to be first recognized as Japan's traditional form of dress. Although today accessories tend to be regarded as belonging to the realm of the female, it is hoped that through the various kinds of accessories displayed in this exhibition, which are more than a match for today's fashion items, visitors will be transported back to a time when both men and women were concerned with fashion.

Exhibition layout

Chapter One - Edo dress - the aesthetics and fashions of accessories

The splendor and fashions of accessories in the Edo and Meiji periods are surveyed through simple explanations accompanying each item on display.

(1) Bags and pouches - small bags that are in no way outclassed by the baguette bags of today

  • Tobacco pouches, paper tissue pouches, tissue bags, sleeve pouches, mirror pouches, toothpick pouches and amulet pouches, etc

(2) Seal cases and netsuke - adornments of the fashionable man

(3) Sword accessories - the small universe concealed in swords

  • Hand guards, decorative metal hilts, hilts of short swords, metal rods attached to sword sheaths

(4) Hair ornaments - hairstyles and accessories

  • Hairstyles and hair ornaments/combs, hairpins and ornamental hairpins
  • Hair accessories owned by the family of a Meiji nobleman (Prince Arisugawa)

(5) Sash clips - the evolution of adornments of the modern kimono

  • Sashes and sash clips are coordinated with kimono from the Nomura Collection
  • [Column] The origins of accessories (accessories from primitive times through to the ancient era)
  • [Image] Adornments of Edo (adornments of fashionable men and women)

Chapter Two - The mastery of personal adornments from the Edo period

This display takes a close look at the appeal of accessories by focusing on the secret universe of design and techniques concealed amongst small accessories

(1) Art of the craftsman - various kinds of techniques and materials

  • 'Kinkarakawa' the art of "cuoi d'oro" (gold leaf on leather) imported from Europe / 'shobugawa'- blue-dyed buck skin with a white iris pattern / 'Sora' style of needlework used for sewing family crests on garments / "Kansen" style of needlework with alternating exposed stitching on tucked edges / 'Hanamusubigumi' knotted cord /' Sarasa'- chintz / 'makie'- lacquer ware / mother-of-pearl / engraved lacquer / scabbard with various colors of lacquer / inlay / chasing- method of metal carving / fret-work / cut glass / tortoise-shell and imitation tortoise-shell, etc

(2) Dressing in splendor - Understanding Edo design

  • Lucky omens/seasonal constraints/famous places/classics and tales/foreign tastes/geometric patterns/the daring and bold/elaborate patterns on the underside of garments/gimmicks, etc
  • [Column] Battle dress (unusual helmets)

Chapter Three- The creators of trendy items- the makers of accessories and distribution

Just how did the manufacturers of accessories manage to meet the demands of people who were fussy about fashion? And how did these men and women get hold of accessories. We consider these aspects through materials related to production and distribution.

(1) Distribution of design- mass production systems based on sketches showing techniques and books containing patterns and designs

  • Sketches showing techniques and books containing patterns and designs /borrowing graphics from paintings

(2) The age of the master artisan - the emergence of famous authors and artisan's signatures as brands

  • [Column] Excavated accessories (burial accessories)

Materials scheduled for exhibition & Photo Gallery

  1. Bag and pouch collection of Heijiro Hoshino (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  2. Comb and ornamental hairpin collection of Heijiro Hoshino (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  3. Combs, ornamental hairpins, hairpins and bags and pouches from the Shojiro Nomura collection (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  4. Collection of hair ornaments (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  5. Hair ornaments owned by noble families from the end of the Meiji period and garments owned by Mieko Tokugawa from the family of Prince Arisugawa (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  6. Seal case collection of Giichi Makino (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  7. Folding screen depicting scene of many people dancing in a circle, folding screen depicting airing with a collage of modern dress scraps (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  8. "Soukenkishou" (published in 1781), "Inroufu" (published in 1717) (housed at the National Museum of Japanese History)
  9. Sash clip collection (private collection)
  10. Sword accessories collection (private collection)
  11. Smoking accessories collection (Tobacco and Salt Museum)
  12. "Imayousetsukinhinagata" (published in 1823) - a book by Hokusai Katsushika containing pictures used to decorate combs and long metal smoking pipes, and other books containing designs
  13. Accessories excavated from the burial site of the Makino family - feudal lord of the Nagaoka clan- and accessories excavated from the ruins of Jishouin

Photo Gallery

Hakoseko pouch of purple woolen cloth with design of aronia and tatewaki pattern on snow crystal roundel ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Hairpin in silver with design of plum, chrysanthemum, bamboo and orchid, hanging decoration ; from the Hair accessories owned by the family of a later Meiji nobleman
Hairpin of nickel silver in shape of long tobacco pipe with hanging decoration of tabacco container ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Hairpin of silver and coral in shape of helmet with design of hanging flower decoration ; from the Hair Ornament Collection
Hairpin of tortoiseshell in shape of waves and plovers ; from the Hair accessories owned by the family of a later Meiji nobleman
Comb in maki-e with design of autumn grass and grasshopper ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Inro in maki-e with design of playing cards ; from the Makino Yoshikazu Collection
Inro in maki-e with chrysanthemum design ; from the Makino Yoshikazu Collection
Inro in maki-e and with design of chrysanthemum and fallen leaves ; from the Makino Yoshikazu Collection
Set of tobacoo pouch and pipe case of red tie-dyed fabrics ; from the Hoshino Heijiro Collection
Tobacoo pouch of wrinkled tanned leather with design of oxalis ; from the Hoshino Heijiro Collection
Set of tobacoo pouch and pipe case of tapestry-woven brocade with design of reeds and wild geese ; from the Hoshino Heijiro Collection
Paper tissue pouch of copy of Kinkarakawa(gold-patterned leather) with design of monky ; from the Hoshino Heijiro Collection
Paper tissue pouch of gold tapestry-woven brocade with design of tools of No play $B!H(BTakasago$B!I(B ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Paper tissue pouch of smoked leather ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Hakoseko pouch of red cotton with embroidered design of wisteria ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Hakoseko pouch of yellow woolen cloth with embroidered design of bamboo ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Hakoseko pouch of white velvet with embroidered design of irises ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Bookmarker in pasted rag picture with design of stream and cherry blossoms ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection
Paper tissue pouch in pasted rag picture with design of butterfly ; from the Nomura Shojiro Collection

Highlights

  • This exhibition represents the first opportunity for bringing together all of the collections of accessories housed at the National Museum of Japanese History, which until now have been exhibited on only a few occasions, and making them available for public display.
  • On display are approximately 80 items of splendid garments and hair ornaments worn by the nobility from the latter part of the Meiji period, such as by members of the family of Prince Arisugawa (on display for the first time).
  • Sashes and sash clips have been added to and coordinated with kimono from the Nomura Collection, which are usually displayed on their own. This makes the personal adornments look even more spectacular.
  • Famous pieces have been selected from the collections of seal cases and netsuke - well-known as Japanese accessories- of private collectors and are on display. (Includes items on public display for the first time.)

Associated events

  • Lectures at the National Museum of Japanese History will be held on the afternoons of the second Saturdays of July and August in the Lecture Hall. The public are invited to attend.
  • Hitoshi Iwasaki, 'Bags and pouches and accessories', Saturday, 13 July
  • Kaori Hidaka, 'Edo Craftsmanship', Saturday, 10 August
  • A demonstration of hairstyling is scheduled twice during the period of the exhibition