Jisshukodogu - Incenses box

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Project by madburg posted 06-12-2021 02:01 AM 470 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Some of you will know that I’m currently into my Japanese Period. I’ve been fascinated by all Japanese boxes for a few years now and have been making a whole range of them. While this small box is a finished project in its own right, it is just part of the main Incense box which is still on going. But I liked it so much I thought I would post it now.

Its the first of 10 small boxes that hold voting tablets used in the Japanese Incense games Kodo. In Kodo participants are pulled into an elaborate guessing game where they must match the scents of different kinds of incense. While its origins were in China, ‘incense listening’ is a part of Japanese culture. Like ikebana (flower arranging), kintsuji (ceramics) and tea ceremonies, kodo is a lesson in aesthetic appreciation and is as much a game as it is an art form. All the paraphernalia associated with Kodo was beautifully made and decorated with the finest lacquer. I have made a few other items associated with in the past which you can see here, here, and here.

So, this little box holds a set of 12 voting tablets. Each tablet is 35×16 x 3 mm They are made from ebony and have a flower or tree symbol on one side which identifies the participant. Below are some of the chrysanthemum and paulownia set.

The other side has 1, 2, 3, or Guest plus a Star or Moon on. After smelling, ‘listening’ to one of the incenses in the game, the participants use one of the tablets to vote for what they think it is.

The tablets which are made from ebony, were finished and wax polished to ensure the surface was smooth and filled, before a friend laser engraved them. I then put a couple of coats of gold lacquer into the engravings. Any smudges around the symbols could be then be lightly sanded off. The outer box is made from walnut with gold lacquer on the top edge.

There will be 10 sets of tablets, so 120 tablets in total. Each set will have their own little box. Theses then fit into another box, which fits into one of the trays in the main Incense box. So nine more boxes and 108 tablets to go…. I will post the finished box, but it will be a while yet!

Thanks for looking.

-- Madburg WA

7 comments so far

View MrWolfe's profile


1642 posts in 1277 days

#1 posted 06-12-2021 02:10 AM

Thanks for sharing.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4715 posts in 4263 days

#2 posted 06-12-2021 02:58 AM

Wow! I’m cleaning out my garage “shop” and discovered some slabs of wild grained walnut, from which I was thinking of making a box along the lines of what you are doing. I don’t think I’ll get that deeply into the Japanese cultural aspects like you have, but you give me a real appreciation for it. You are doing beautiful things with that wood!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View awsum55's profile


1095 posts in 1662 days

#3 posted 06-12-2021 06:10 AM

Your stuff should be in a museum. I sometimes look through your projects and I’m amazed at the things you’ve built. Thanks for sharing your talents.

-- John D, OP, KS

View sras's profile


6231 posts in 4283 days

#4 posted 06-12-2021 02:54 PM

Thanks for sharing this. It will reduce the “shock factor” when you post the entire project! It’s going to be amazing – looking forward to it.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Ken90712's profile


18048 posts in 4342 days

#5 posted 06-12-2021 05:42 PM

Wow, interesting and beautiful!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View splintergroup's profile


5430 posts in 2376 days

#6 posted 06-12-2021 07:22 PM

A nice cultural piece with an interesting story! Thanks for posting.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2835 posts in 701 days

#7 posted 06-13-2021 07:29 AM


Comparable to James Joyce´s Ulysses

or Joseph Conrad´s Heart of Darkness

but with wood.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

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