New Year Special Display:

Hatsune Maki-e Lacquer Trousseau
National Treasure from the Tokugawa Art Museum

Exhibition period:

1 January 2020 (Wed) – 26 January 2020 (Sun)


Cultural Exchange Exhibition Hall, Room 11


New Year—a time for new things. New clothes, new resolutions, and perhaps even a new chapter in life. All these come together in our ninth annual New Year Special Display of the Hatsune Trousseau, a National Treasure on loan from the Tokugawa Art Museum. This spectacular trousseau is an example of a set of furnishings created especially for a princess in the Edo period on the occasion of her marriage. It was produced in 1639 for Edo-period princess Chiyohime’s marriage, and followed her to her new home.

The Hatsune Trousseau is decorated with motifs from the “Hatsune” (The First Warbler) chapter of the Heian-period narrative The Tale of Genji. This chapter features the protagonist Prince Genji celebrating the New Year with his family, and contains a New Year’s poem that mentions “the first cry” of the warbler. Japanese culture places particular importance on “firsts” around the New Year—first visit to the shrine or temple, first dream of the year, first sunrise, and so on. It is for this very connection that our museum has chosen to exhibit the Hatsune Trousseau around New Year every year.

This year, we have three items from the Hatsune Trousseau, all decorated extravagantly in gold and silver using maki-e lacquer. Supplementing them are artworks also inspired by The Tale of Genji, as well as items from another Edo-period trousseau. This New Year’s season, come and see what a princess in that period would have brought with her as she entered a new stage in life.

beyond2020 This exhibition is a certified part of the beyond2020 program organized by the Japanese Government.

Exhibition Highlights

ⓒ Tokugawa Art Museum Image Archives/DNPartcom

National Treasure Hatsune maki-e lacquer lidless box (midarebako)
Tokugawa Art Museum

Midarebako are shallow boxes without a lid, used for storing clothes, makeup, as well as miscellaneous items. This box comes with a face powder case, a container for moisturizer, and a mirror box that contains a mirror made of a copper-nickel alloy, among other items.


ⓒ Tokugawa Art Museum Image Archives/DNPartcom

National Treasure Hatsune maki-e lacquer long document box
Tokugawa Art Museum

Boxes like this one were used to deliver correspondence. They exist in various types that serve different functions, e.g. gift-giving, daily use, etc. Pictured here is the longer of the two boxes in the Hatsune Trousseau.


ⓒ Tokugawa Art Museum Image Archives/DNPartcom

National Treasure Hatsune maki-e lacquer tanzaku stationery box
Tokugawa Art Museum

A tanzaku is a long strip of paper on which people wrote poems. The box here doubles as a stationery box, with the removable upper component holding an inkstone, water droppers, as well as brushes. The tanzaku goes directly into the box, beneath the removable component.