A writing box in elongated rectangular form with domed flush-fitting lid, the polished black-lacquer ground decorated in gold and silver lacquer and inlaid pewter with a design of a budding willow tree and a flowering plum tree, the design extending over the sides; the interior with gold lacquer decoration of five pine seedlings; comes with the original ink stone and silver water-dropper. Signed in gold lacquer inside the lid: Kirokusai with a red mark. The writing box, very likely a New Year gift, is an excellent example of the twentieth-century revival of the Rinpa lacquer style, which was pioneered by Hon'ami Kōetsu and Ogata Kōrin in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The writing box comes with its original fitted kiri-wood tomobako storage box inscribed outside in ink "Writing box with early-spring design" and signed inside in ink Kirokusai with a red seal mark reading Kirokusai.
A native of Wajima, Japan, Kirokusai showed at numerous national exhibitions in Japan, including at the prestigeous annual Teiten art exhibitions in Tokyo in the 1920s and 30s and at the important 2600th Anniversary Exhibition of the Japanese Empire in 1940. He also exhibited internationally at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933-34 and was commissioned to make a set of lacquer furniture for Britain’s Prince of Wales.