Netsuke: miniature masterpieces from Japan

Gods and Demons

Japanese netsuke customers were keen on images of gods who might bring them long life, wealth or happiness.

Many of these gods come from Buddhist and Daoist beliefs which were imported to Japan from China.  Other popular figures such as Okame, the goddess of mirth, come from ancient Japanese tales.

Demons are a popular subject in netsuke too, perhaps to remind people of right and wrong or because their bad behaviour seemed amusing.