Netsuke representing a pile of coins
Japanese kimono have no pockets, nor is there any other provision for carrying small belongings. Therefor Japanese make use of sagemono which were worn suspended from the kimono sash or obi by means of a small toggle called netsuke. The first netsuke were natural materials such as gourds, wood or stones. They probably came into use during the latter half of the 16th century. They were used in connection with kinchaku and inro. At that time they were not directly attached to the obi but to an ivory ring called obigurawa which was passed through the obi. The netsuke with artistic treatment came into vogue during the late 17th century. However there is a type of netsuke with artistic treatment before this period. Indeed the seal netsuke (ingio), which came from China, was introduced during the 16th century. At least we know that Hideyoshi brought back from his Korean wars in 1592 some tobori (foreign carvings) which included seals. Samurai carried these seals with them in a little bag (hiuchi-bukuro) containing fire-making implements. When not in use for outside, these seals were stored in a little box , the precursor of the portable inro. Soon the seals were transformed into netsuke (adding himotoshi) or used as netsuke. Through the years the inro was no longer in use as a portable storage box for seal and ink-pad but it steadily became a portable container for medicines.