Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Manjū netsuke depicting Urashima Tarō riding on the back of his wife, who is disguised as a turtle

  • Description

    The fisherman Urashima Tarō married Otohime, daughter of the Dragon King of the Sea. Here, Otohime is disguised as a turtle and Urashima Tarō is depicted riding home on her back to visit his parents. On the reverse is the treasure box she has given Urashima Tarō, which he must not open until he returns to her.

  • Details

    Associated place
    AsiaJapanHonshūKantōTōkyō prefecture Tōkyō (place of creation)
    mid - late 19th century
    Suzuki Kōsai (active mid - late 19th century)
    Material and technique
    ivory, probably lathe-turned, with carved decoration, and stained with black and red pigment; kebori (fine line) engraving on the reverse
    2.2 cm (height)
    4.7 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    formed carved,
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Bequeathed by Dr Monica Barnett, 2001.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 23 April-22 September 2013, Manjū: Netsuke from the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Joyce Seaman, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2013), no. 68 on pp. 170-172, illus. p. 171

Glossary (2)

Manjū, netsuke

  • Manjū

    The manjū is a type of netsuke or toggle which takes its name from a round, sweet, bean paste-filled bun. A greater dynamism can often be achieved on the front and back of the netsuke than with other three-dimensional carving.

  • netsuke

    The netsuke is a form of toggle that was used to secure personal items suspended on cords from the kimono sash. These items included purses, medicine cases or tobacco paraphernalia.


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


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