Moving from Osaka to Kyoto, another such guide is Shopping by Yourself in Kyoto, Kyōto kaimono hitori annai (京都買物獨案内) of 1831, published by Shimizuya Jihei (清水屋次兵衛) of Kyoto with his colleagues Choya Kanbei (著屋勘兵衛) and Izōya Saemon (伊像屋佐右衛門), also of Kyoto, and with Kawachiya Kihei (河内屋喜兵衛) and Harimaya Gorōbei (播磨屋五郎兵衛) of Osaka and Yamashiroya Sahei (山城屋佐兵衛) of Edo. Under the letter ‘so’ we find ‘ivory,’ zōge (象牙), starting with a large advert of Iseya Zenbei (伊勢屋善兵衛) at Teramachi Takatsuji (寺町高辻上ル), a Wholesaler of Ivory and All Kinds of Materials, Zōgerui toiya (象牙類問屋), who has netsuke, offering plectra (for playing the shamisen or the biwa-lute), various white silken kesa (priest’s stoles?), the jiku for mounters of paintings (the knobs on the roller), plectra for the koto, spinning tops, netsuke, indeed, chopsticks, tea spoons, incense boxes, combs and ornamental hairpins of both the kōgai (笄) and the kanzashi (簪) types [for ills see my earlier blog on netsuke in Osaka], all made of water buffalo, whale, elephant, bone, or horn, as well as of porcelain, stone, combs that one disposes of (?), cloisonné enamel, shells, of Chinese (or just outlandish) and Japanese woods, lathe work, peony, small runners for sugoroku boards, and stone, and various articles. Then there is Yorozuya Shōsuke (萬屋庄助) at the Yanagi horse riding ground by the Manju Temple (萬壽寺柳馬場), a member of the Guild of Ivory and Tortoise Importers (象牙鼈甲仕入問屋), also running a workshop, and offering various netsuke made of Chinese (or just foreign) woods and all kinds of ivory jiku for mounters of paintings (see above). And just specializing in netsuke carvings there is Hōgaku (宝樂), a master netsuke carver, netsuke horimonoshi (根付彫物師) at Ogawadōri Ebisugawa (小川通夷川上ル).

The Japanese wife of a Dutchman on Deshima holding a shawn and having a child on her back, signed Yoshitomo 吉友 (Courtesy National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden)

Among the haberdashers, komamonoya (小間物屋), we find Fujiya Sōbei (藤屋惣兵衛) at Rokkakujichō (六角寺町西へ入) as a shoshiki komamonoya (諸色小間物屋), that is a ‘haberdasher of commodities,’ apparently a sub-group among haberdashers, selling netsuke and various sagemono (提物, that is various items worn from the sash, which may be as varied as tobacco pouches, pipe holders, inrō, purses, gourds to contain liquids or also medicine, and scoops for drinking water), and items in tortoise and ivory, and combs and ornamental hairpins of the kōgai type (笄). Sawaya Kyūbei (佐和屋久兵衛) at Matsubara Tomikomichi (松原冨小路東へ入) offers netsuke and all kinds of hardware (kanamono 金物, probably small knives, kozuka, razors, scissors, and the like), ornamental hairpins of the kanzashi type, bags and pouches (fukuromono 袋物), and xx? (華提). And Komatsuya Mohei (小松屋茂兵衛) at Teramachi Matsubara (寺町松原下町) offers netsuke in addition to compasses (磁石) and various kinds of older hardware (?, 前金物類). And then there are another 199 haberdashers who just fail to specify whether they are also dealing in netsuke, among whom there is at least some Karakiya Shichibei (唐木屋七兵衛, suggesting something with foreign kinds of wood), and some Zōgeya Hanbei (象牙屋半兵衛, suggesting something with ivory). But hardly any of these shops selling netsuke is specific about whether they have ivory or wooden netsuke, and maybe they just have a good selection of both, the ivory ones undoubtedly being more costly than most common woods, certainly when these are not ‘foreign woods, karaki.’ And so far, just one shop-owner claims to sell netsuke made by a known carver. Isn’t that an issue at the time, or would you simply know that you should be here for your Tomotada ox and with that shop for an Okatomo goat? The connoisseurs, I mean.

A fisherman on the back of a huge blow fish, fugu, signed Masatomo 正友(Courtesy National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden)

A later edition of this Kyoto shopping guide is published in 1851 by the same Shimizuya Jihei (清水屋次兵衛) of Kyoto with his colleagues Shimizuya Kanbei (清水屋勘兵衛), Yoshinoya Kanbei (吉野屋勘兵衛) and Hiranoya Mohei (平野屋茂兵衛) also of Kyoto, and with Kawachiya Kihei (河内屋喜兵衛) and Harimaya Gorōbei (播磨屋五郎兵衛) of Osaka, and again with Yamashiroya Sahei (山城屋佐兵衛) of Edo. Here we find the Netsuke shop of Kaneya Ihei (金屋伊兵衛) at Tomikomichi Shijō (冨小路四条下る) with a stock of netsuke (根付仕入所) in ivory, Chinese, that is foreign woods, and Japanese woods, finally even mentioning the name of his netsuke carver: Matsui Masamitsu (松井正光). Could he be the Masamitsu listed as 1435 by Davey: ‘One recorded. Wood. Mask of Okame. Early 19th century.’ Or would he rather be one of the two Masamitsus listed in Ueda, nos. 219 and 220. The second died in 1902 at the age of over 50, so he was born around the late 1840s, making it quite unlikely that he was working with Kaneya in 1851. The first Masamitsu was actually ‘Ejima Kōtarō (江島幸太郎), from Takada in Echigo Province, a pupil of Ishikura Masayoshi (石倉正義 [also from Takada, Echigo, who died in 1848]) who adopted him as his son. He then returned to Echigo and died in 1909 at the age of circa 73.’ Not impossible, being born in 1836, but not really convincing.

Among the haberdashers, there is Naraya Yasubei (奈良屋安兵衛) at Teramachi Shijō (寺町四条下) selling all kinds of netsuke and ojime (緒メ), purses (紙入), tobacco pouches (煙艸入) and hardware (金物). And the Kyūmondō of Shimizuya Jihei (九文堂清水屋次兵衛) at Tomikomichi Shijō (冨小路四条下ル町) sells netsuke, and also dolls, the stones for the board game of shōgi (将棊駒), small picture books (小繪本), x?, and all kinds of kanamono (金物).

Obviously, there are plenty of shops where you might try and find a netsuke that you liked, and you wouldn’t have to ask where such or so school netsuke carver was having his studio. You might just as well try any haberdasher in the city. As far as I am aware, nobody in the vast literature on netsuke ever discussed how and where these could be bought, and for me, as an art historian, how the art market works is a primary interest. Next week we’ll be looking at the Edo market of netsuke.