All of us love placing small samplings of our lives into boxes—jewelry, stamps, passports, tokens. If you haven’t yet seen a Yosegi box, you’re in for a treat. Yosegi boxes (also yosegi-zaiku) show painstaking detail and have a graceful appeal. These boxes originated in Hakone, during Japan’s culturally-rich Edo period. Japanese craftsmen have continued to make them for the past 330-400 years. Each box features a mosaic created from individual wooden rods. Yosegi, a type of traditional marquetry epitomizes the finest, most delicate example of hand-crafted woodworking. The Japanese credit the development of Yosegi techniques to emperors’ woodworkers during ancient times. The artisans learned how to depict decorative imagery showcasing geometric patterns by forming cross-sections of wood veneer. Boxes are traditionally measured through “sun,” small units of measurement. Most measure between 3-6 sun. Today, boxes are most often glued together in an old-world method. Most often, artisans use a knife to shave off paper-thin pieces of veneer. They later use an adhesive to bond it to plain-looking wood pieces. None of the wood is artificially dyed. The wood is derived from several different types of trees in Hakone: Timber from the spindle tree, dogwood and aohada trees results in white coloring; yellow wood comes from the Chinese lacquer trees, wax trees, nigaki, and mulberry trees. Wood from Japanese cucumber trees appears bluish. The Chinese cedar tree is used for red-colored wood. Katsura provides the black color. Brown wood comes from the camphor; light-brown from the cherry tree, Japanese Pagoda and Zelkova. Purple wood comes from black walnut…Combing a wide variety of woods with such ancient and painstaking techniques equals one great box. Cultural preservation efforts and demonstrations of yosegi box making now take place in Hakone villages. Masters use the same amount of precision as in ancient times. One visiting-enthusiast recalls, “I saw an old man gluing wood. He was wrapping with a piece of catgut that he dried and used to clamp it with. Sitting cross-legged on a cushion, he drew a knife back and shaved off thin pieces of wood.” Later, the inspired visitor sought out an excursion to a Hakone inlay factory. * This unusual yosegi box differs from others because the box maker turns it from a solid block of wood, rather than assembling it from several pieces. Remarkable geometric patterns are inlaid throughout the curvature of the box, causing a bowl-like effect… Imagine using this box for storage! *The image of the rectangular box (made by Hakone masters) has a sliding mechanism similar to the secret locking/unlocking mechanism used by Samurais. Like many other modern yosegi boxes, artisans applied a finishing coat. The box is fit for a king.