This inkstone box has an overhanging lid. While the inkstone is today missing, the box still contains its cloisonné water dropper. The entire surface is decorated with a lavish gold nashiji ground, and the designs are worked in thin takamaki-e in silver and gold. The lid exterior is decorated with an image of Kaoru crossing the Uji bashi Bridge, from “Hashihime,” the 45th chapter of the Tale of Genji . The lid interior is decorated with Narihira and his entourage passing before Mt. Fuji in a scene from the 9th chapter of the Tales of Ise . Both of these images are linked to the imagery for Tale of Genji and Tales of Ise scenes that was standardized in the early Edo period.
An ivory waterwheel has been inlaid in the exterior surface of the lid. When the lid is lifted and tilted slightly, the wheel revolves. Two metal fittings have been worked into the area between the inner and outer surfaces of the lid, and mercury flowing between those fittings makes up the mechanism that allows the waterwheel to revolve smoothly.