From Accessories to Art: This Free Exhibit Showcases Japan's Mini-Sculptures

It's part of Ayala Museum's pop-up shows.

( The Ayala Museum may have closed its doors temporarily, but there's no stopping it from continuing to showcase cultural pieces all over the Metro. This includes Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke, a traveling exhibition presenting 64 works by Japanese netsuke carvers and artists. It runs from July 1 to 21 at Greenbelt 5 in Makati City.


If you're wondering what a netsuke is, it's actually a very practical invention that was used for kimonos during the Edo period in Japan. The small wooden sculpture was placed on the obi (or a sash for the keikogi)—much like a belt buckle—then hung with money pouches, medicine containers, or tobacco containers. The kimono didn’t have pockets so where else could the Japanese put their personal items? Think of it as one of the early iterations of a cell phone pouch, or a cigarette holder that you wear on your neck. What started as functional sculptures eventually became art pieces that were valued for their detailed carvings.

Untitled piece by Izumi Kato (2017) Courtesy of Ayala Museum
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"Netsuke is unique in that daily commodities have evolved into an art form in the course of time. I believe viewers can enjoy and appreciate the delicate work of art created by Japanese craftsmanship," shared Hiroaki Uesugi, director of The Japan Foundation, in a statement. The Japan Foundation, along with Ateneo de Manila University's Japanese Studies program and the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, partnered with the Ayala Museum and Ayala Malls in this endeavor to share a piece of Japanese culture with the Filipino audience.

Two experts from Japan, Tadamine Nakagawa and Asuka Kajiura, are scheduled to give a demonstration and workshop on netsuke. The demo is on July 1, 4 p.m. at 3/F Greenbelt 5, while the workshop is on July 2, 10 a.m. at Areté, Ateneo de Manila University. Both events are free of charge.

Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke runs from July 1 to 21 at 3/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City. For more information, follow Ayala Museum on Facebook.


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