Special Exhibition

Past Exhibition

The "tabakobon" (kiseru-smoking stow-box)

Until July 4, 2021

Following the introduction of tobacco to Japan in the latter half of the sixteenth century, tabako-bon, utensils to keep tools required for smoking together, were devised. "Tabako-bon" literally translates as "tobacco tray," but also refers to containers for stowing smoking implements. Not only were these containers kept at one's side ready for when one wanted to have a smoke, but they were also used to store trinkets and entertain guests. Shops used them for advertising, and they also played the essential role of holding a charcoal fire in everyday life. In other words, such containers have always been by the side of the Japanese people in their daily life.

However, once cigarettes were introduced at the end of the Tokugawa regime, pipes were replaced by cigarettes, which were lit by a match or a lighter instead of the charcoal fire in the mini brazier. The conventional tabako-bon equipped with a mini brazier and an ashtray was remodeled according to the needs of the time. Nowadays, all the instruments required for smoking are a lighter and an ashtray, and even those are unnecessary for the latest products.

Now that we rarely see people smoking a pipe, boxes for storing smoking implements are on the verge of becoming an existence of the past. However, the woodwork, lacquer art, chasing, etc. applied on such utensils convey the versatile skills of both famous and anonymous artisans. They may be no more than articles for daily use, but their forms, designs, and decorations are certainly worthy of appreciation.

The Tobacco and Salt Museum has over 700 examples of tabako-bon, which form a characteristic group of materials. Unfortunately, hardly any data on past owners or the circumstances under which these utensils were produced remain, and their quality and condition vary widely from artworks to sundries.

Introduced in this exhibition are a diverse selection of tabako-bon from our collection, ranging from simple examples for everyday use to magnificent sets used by the daimyo. These implements may have little to do with us at present, but we hope you will enjoy imagining how they stylishly supported the daily life of the people of the past.

※All information are given in Japanese only

[General admission fees]

General(Adults and university students)

Children and pupils of primary, juniorhigh, and high schools

Visitors over 65 years old ※Please show proof of age when entering.

※ With age certificate, visitors over 65 years old are admitted for half price.
※ With disability certificate, free admission for disabled persons and one accompanying attendant.

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