Box with equipment for an incense game

From Japan
Edo period, 18th century AD

Lacquered wood with contents of various materials

Like the Tea Ceremony and flower arrangement, the enjoyment of incense had developed into a complex pastime in Japan by the Edo period. The various games included guessing a fragrance from as many as 2000 varieties, as well as matching fragrances and blending incenses to suggest certain moods.

This set includes tools for cutting and arranging the incense, a set of playing-pieces with board, score-boards, and books of guessing slips which have paintings of scenes from Genji monogatari ('The Tale of Genji') on the covers. The group of small containers and the box into which everything was packed away are richly decorated with 'The Three Friends of Winter' (pine, plum and bamboo) and the triple hollyhock leaf mon (crest) of the Tokugawa family in gold makie with nashiji and gold foil.

Find in the collection online

Box with equipment for an incense game

Box with equipment for an incense game, Japan, 18th century AD


More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 20.200 cm (box)
Width: 26.700 cm (box)
Depth: 18.400 cm (box)

Museum number

Asia JA 1912.10-12.21


Gift of Mrs H. Seymour Trower


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore