Traditional Japanese pastimes: giving gifts
Games, writing sets and tea sets were the sort of high-quality goods that Japanese people would give each other as presents.
In Edo period Japan the exchange of gifts played an important social role, and the custom developed into a ritualised display of wealth and status.
Gifts were usually presented in a lacquer box placed on a tray of lacquer or wood. A textile cover called a fukusa would be placed over this. The fukusa would be suitably admired, and returned with the box and tray to the donor.
The choice of an appropriate cover was an important part of the gift-giving ceremony. The richness of the decoration indicated the donor's wealth, and the design was a reflection of their taste and scholarship.