Netsuke: miniature masterpieces from Japan

Mythical Creatures

Creatures from Japanese myths and legends were popular subjects for netsuke.

Many had special powers. The baku could eat dreams whilst the ‘Chinese lions’ guarding temples could scare demons away.

There were many stories of trickster creatures such as foxes and raccoon dogs (tanuki) that could transform themselves from one thing to another. Other tales told of supernatural beings that lived in the woods or near water.