I recently found this old box and was impressed by the craftsmanship enough to be curious as to what it used to display. Are the symbols carved on it Kanji? If so can anyone tell me what it says, or perhaps what its purpose was?
Thanks for your replies Navy Guy, How similar is your wifes box? Does it also have the same sort of interior? The only reason i cant picture it being for a tea set is that there's no place for anything but a bottle shaped object (tea leaves?), and it has a piece of glass in there. I think any cups etc. would have broke pretty quickly. Then again, maybe thats why the items it used to store are missing
Well the picture is not as good as seeing it in person of course but I still think it's for a tea set. Tea cups placed in with opening down and stacked, then tea pot on top... tea pot's are not that heavy especially if made from "clay". it does not look like you would have a boiling kettle in there though.
Although I could concede that it might also be a display box for some "bottle/urn"
Lambert can you describe the inlay, is it just one solid shape or are there ridges?
I am going to e-mail the first picture to my wife and ask her if she can read it.
She couldn't read one character on the side because it's not a common use Kanji but here is what she told me:
Top 2 characters are still in use by the JMSDF (Japanese Navy) they say "sea shore" basically marine.
Below that it talks about a tea shop/cafe. She looked at the inlay and recognized this as a traditional tea ceremony box, much like the one she has.
Her take on this box is that a cafe or restraunt that was on/next to a Japanese base named Hoku En used to deliver food and drink to the Naval officers. This box would have been used to carry the tea set to the delivery, the glass may have been in the box so they could display the set without it being exposed to elements.
Do you have any dates for the box... this may be WW2. It would be interesting to know also how you got it.