Snake with Flexible Parts, Jizai-okimono

Myōchin and Photo by Kimura Youichi

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
Kyoto, Japan

Jizai-okimono were first made in the mid Edo Period (1603-1868). There are still many uncertainties as to the origin of jizai-okimono, though inscriptions on some indicate that they were being made by the beginning of the 18th century. The dragon with moveable parts in the Tokyo National Museum collection has an incised inscription below its chin reading, “Good-luck day in the 6th month of Shōtoku 3 (1713) a Mizunotomi year, Made by Myōchin Kisōzai, age 31, living in Kanda District of Edo, Musashino Province,” and another jizai-okimono has an inscription dated 1753. Armorers (kachu-shi) made the jizai-okimono. Originally these people fashioned armor, sword guards, and equestrian equipment. Myōchin, the man whose name was inscribed on the dragon mentioned earlier, came from a famous family of armorers extending back to the Muromachi Period (1338~1573). Although at that time they worked mostly in the Kantō area, by the Edo Period they had spread over the whole country from Hirosaki (Aomori Prefecture) in the North to Kōchi in the South.


  • Title: Snake with Flexible Parts, Jizai-okimono
  • Creator: Myōchin, Photo by Kimura Youichi
  • Type: metal, samurai, reptiles, movable
  • Original Source: Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum
  • Rights: © Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum
  • Medium: Metal

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