Japanese maple
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Japanese Gardens feature little-known Japanese art forms

Caption: Japanese Maple in upper pond during fall. Photo by David M. Cobb.

Portland Japanese Garden’s first new Pavilion art exhibition this year featuring small Japanese accessories and miniature Japanese carvings runs through April 17.

Once immensely popular across Japan, netsuke (pronounced nets-keh), small accessories fashioned from wood, ivory, or porcelain, blurred the lines between function and art in their heyday. Fashion and Fantasy will showcase the fascinating world of these miniature Japanese carvings traditionally used to secure small pouches to men’s pocketless kimonos.

Heron garden at Japanese Gardens.
Caption: Wet heron lantern in the flat garden. Photo by Tony Small

Drawing on a recent gift from the Jim Coonan collection, this exhibition presents a glimpse into this little-known art form from pre-modern Japan. Each netsuke is highly detailed, depicting people and animals from everyday life as well as folktales and fables.