Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum

A Museum Devoted to Netsuke – Traditional Portable Artworks

This is the only special museum for netsuke in the whole country. Netsuke were invented in the 17th century as a kind of fastener, to hang tobacco pouches and the like from the kimono belt. Since a kimono has no pockets, valuables and other things were placed in a container that was hung with a cord from the belt, with a netsuke at the other end of the cord.

Although the original purpose was simply to prevent loss or theft, netsuke soon evolved into masterworks of craftsmanship with elaborate designs of high artistic value. The materials vary from ivory and animal bones to porcelain and metal, but all are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and all have a hole through which to thread the cords. The contemporary equivalent would be the often rather intricate straps people hang on their mobile phones. It makes you feel the affection the Japanese hold for the tiny items of daily life.

The building is from 1820 and is the only remaining former samurai residence in the city of Kyoto. While enjoying the breathtakingly lovely garden and the dignified atmosphere of the main building, you can admire the collection of around 400 pieces. Please note that the museum is only open during certain periods.

Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum
ADDRESS 46-1 Mibukayougosho-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL 075-802-7000
ACCESS 15 minutes by taxi from JR Kyoto Station.
17 minutes by bus 26, 28 or 71 from JR Kyoto Station, and then 2 minutes on foot from the Mibudera-michi bus stop.
OPEN 10:00 - 17:00 during the periods February 1 – 28, April 1 – 30, July 1 – 31, and November 1 – 30.
CLOSE The rest of the year.
Photo: © Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum