Historical information

‘The Art of the Japanese Package’ was an exhibition that toured to 10 Australian and 11 New Zealand public galleries in 1979 and 1980. The touring exhibition comprised 221 objects of traditional Japanese packaging which extended from ceramics, wood and paper to woven fibre containers.

At the conclusion of the tour, The Japan Foundation and the Crafts Board of the Australia Council donated the vast majority of the exhibition to the Ararat Gallery for its permanent collection.

Combining the natural qualities of bamboo, paper and straw with delicate craftsmanship, these unique objects express Japanese aesthetics as applied through fibre crafts. In Japan, the qualities and traits of natural materials are exploited rather than hidden. The texture of straw, the septa of bamboo are not concealed but lovingly incorporated into the whole.

In 1979 Hideyuki Oka, curator of ‘The Art of the Japanese Package’ wrote:

“In no way self-conscious or assertive, these wrappings have an artless and obedient air that greatly moves the modern viewer. They are whispered evidence of the Japanese ability to create beauty from the simplest products of nature. They also teach us that wisdom and feeling are especially important in packaging because these qualities, or the lack of them, are almost immediately apparent. What is the use of a package if it shows no feeling?”

The descriptions of the featured objects were written by Hideyuki Oka, curator of ‘The Art of the Japanese Package’, 1979.

Physical description

These are containers for miso. The wooden box, a product of Osaka, is lacquered in black on the outside and in bright red on the inside. The binding of split bamboo, in natural colour, gives it a sturdy look.

- Professor Hideyuki Oka, curator.