unsigned inro

19th century

ornaments from the Torinomachi festival

height 3 1/8 in., 8 cm

the four case inro bearing an unusual mottled green and black ishime ground, decorated with gold, silver, black and colored lacquer takamakie ornaments from the Torinomachi festival and the Shichi Fukujin (Seven Lucky Gods); nashiji risers; with grey-brown stone ojime and small lacquer netsuke in the shape of Daikoku's hammer, unsigned

This inro is decorated with ornaments from the Torinomachi festival celebrated at the Washi Daimyonjin Shrine, located within the precincts of the Nichiren Temple of Chokokuji in the Asakusa Ricefields and just west of the Shin Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. The shrine is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Myoken who is represented standing on an eagle. Myoken was particularly popular among artist and entertainers; Katsushika Hokusai was a famous devotee. The eagle was closely associated with the shrine; the name of the festival is actually a play on the word tori (bird)- Torinomachi is short for Tori no matsuri.

Tori can also mean 'to take'- on festival days the entertainment industry, the teahouses, restaurants, theaters and brothels all hoped to 'take in' customers. The temple gates facing the pleasure quarters were opened during the festival, and all of the gates at the Yoshiwara were likewise opened, allowing anyone, including women (normally prohibited), to enter.

During the festival there would be hundreds of stalls with vendors offering food and souvenirs. One ornament associated with the festival is the kumade, a bamboo rake, symbollic of 'raking in' wealth in the coming year. This inro illustrates a kumade decorated with a mask of Okame, the Goddess of mirth who is also associated with abundance. See Smith, Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1986, no. 101) for a discussion of the festival and a Hiroshige print which illustrates a small packet containing kumade hairpins.

The other ornaments on the inro are primarily Takaramono ('precious things'), the attributes of the Lucky Gods, including symbols for cash and sacred jewels, a kanebukuro (inexhaustible money pouch), a hagoromo (feather robe of celestial tennin), a daifukucho (account book), a kinjuryo (gold coin account book), the Takarabune (the Treasure ship of the Lucky Gods), a daikon (or kabu) raddish which was considered an auspicious protective talisman and was associated with Daikoku, and Daikoku's mallet, which is repeated in the form of the netsuke.

another view


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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475