Contemporary wood-carved Netsuke

As kimono culture flourished during the Edo period (1603-1868), netsuke, small carvings, were created as toggles to hold pouches and cases containing tobacco and medicine in place on the obi sash worn with the kimono.

What began as functional pieces to prevent those little suspended containers from falling to the ground evolved into small but highly creative carvings. Today, classic netsuke have gained international acclaim as remarkably detailed carvings. Contemporary netsuke incorporating new subject matter and approaches have also been attracting attention.

This traveling exhibition showcases contemporary netsuke carved of wood by living netsuke craftsmen in Japan, plus netsuke created by contemporary artists such as Izumi Kato. It also includes wooden netsuke that visitors may touch. Through this exhibition, visitors will appreciate the sophisticated skills and playful minds behind contemporary netsuke as well as its formal beauty and contemporaneity.

07 June - 02 August 2020

Photos by Sam Hartnett


The Japan Foundation

The art of netsuke, NPR

A closer look at netsuke with Edmund de Waal

International Netsuke Society

public programmes

Exhibition talk
Grace Lai, Human History Curator at Auckland Museum
Saturday 25 July, 2-3pm
Free to attend, all welcome

Film screening
Every day a good day, 2018
Saturday 11 July, 2pm
Lopdell House Cinema
Free to attend, all welcome