A wood netsuke of a coiled snake

A wooden netsuke of a coiled snake

An Introduction to Netsuke: Object Handling Session for Visually Impaired People

A wood netsuke of a coiled snake

A wooden netsuke of a coiled snake

Encounter a selection of intricately carved netsuke in a tactile object handling session at Japan House London created especially for blind and partially sighted guests. 

Netsuke originated as small toggles used to suspend items from an obi sash, worn as part of a Japanese men’s ensemble from the 17th century onwards. From their utilitarian origins, netsuke have evolved into objects of high art, highly sought after by collectors all over the world. 

Small enough to be held in the palm of the hand, these miniature sculptures have been carved from all sorts of materials including various types of wood, ivory, boars’ tusks, walnuts and stag antlers. Their elaborate carvings capture a rich array of subject matter from animals and plants to characters from Japanese mythology, folklore and history. 

During each small-group workshop, led by Rosemary Bandini, guests can learn about the functional and aesthetic roles of netsuke and handle a selection of exquisitely decorated pieces. For each item, Rosemary introduces the techniques and materials used by the carver, and the varied subject matter they portray.

Booking tickets 

You will be able to select your preferred session time at the point of booking. Please note that this event is for blind and partially sighted guests only.

If you have any questions about this event or how to book, please email [email protected], or call us on +44 (0)20 7932 7100.

Assistance dogs and companions are welcome.

A collection of netsuke carved using the ichii ittōbori (yew woodcarving) technique are on display in the exhibition The Carpenters’ Line: Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama in the Gallery at Japan House London until 29 January 2023.

About the Session Leader

Rosemary Bandini

Rosemary Bandini has been involved in the Japanese art world for over 40 years and now deals privately, specializing in netsuke and sagemono. She has written several books on the subject and in 2013 curated the loan exhibition In a Nutshell held at the Embassy of Japan in London. She has organized three netsuke conventions for the International Netsuke Society, where she is a member of the board. She is also chairperson of the European Chapter of the INS and edits its biannual review, Euronetsuke. She is also a member of the committee of Association Franco-Japonaise and a contributor to its quarterly publication, Bulletin.