Ojime are hand-carved sculptures that originated in Japan.
From about 17th century, the Japanese people (especially the men) carried a small compartmentalized box called an Inro. There was also a Netsuke to balance the Inro over the person’s sash and an Ojime to slide down the string and keep the Inro closed. By the end of the 19th Century, they had evolved into elaborately carved boxes with the accompanying Netsuke and Ojime. While many people are familiar with the larger 2” Netsuke; Ojime are typically between 3/4 inch to 1 inch – a perfect size for 1/12 scale miniatures. The Ojime are found in most of the same designs as the Netsuke.
Originally carved from ivory, jade and other precious materials, they are now usually carved from boxwood. The tight grain of the boxwood allows intricate details. (Boxwood was used for engraved printing plates because of its strength and fine grain – think of the book engravings of Blake and others).
Our Ojime come from China. It takes a craftsman three to six hours to carve each one. Each Ojime is signed in Chinese on the bottom. Most of the Ojime have a hole through them which makes it very easy to use them for lamps and the wiring. If you wish to use them as a piece of sculpture, you can insert a tooth pick into the hole and make it even with the top of the Ojime. Then take a stain marker (dark walnut works well) or a bit of stain and darken the toothpick. The hole will barely be visible.
The Ojime are organized on our pages according to the type of animal or being. Some are real, some are fantasy – all are intriguing. Pour your favorite beverage and sit down to go through them. At this point there are over 550 Ojime shown here on our site. Due to the hand-carved nature of the Ojime, each will vary a bit. Also the availability will vary from time to time. Sometimes I will find one or two of an image and not see the same image for several years – so the Ojime are definitely on an “as available” basis. When I find some that I like that are available in a quantity, I will get them all, but I may not be able to get more of that one for a long time after.
If you do not find a particular animal or theme that you would like, let me know and I will keep my eye out for it.