An "inrō" is a traditional Japanese case for holding small objects, often used in the past to carry items like medicine or seals.
The inrō was most popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), when Japanese men wore kimono as everyday clothing. As the kimono lacked pockets, inrō provided a practical solution to carry small necessities.
Inrō is typically a small box with multiple stacked compartments, made of lacquer and often highly decorated with intricate designs. They are typically suspended from the obi (sash) of the kimono by a silk cord and a netsuke, a carved, often decorative toggle used to prevent the inrō from slipping off the cord.
Inrō, netsuke, and an accompanying ojime (a sliding bead on the cord that secured the compartments of the inrō) together made up a complete ensemble, and were often made as matching sets.
Inrō is no longer used for practical purposes today, but they are regarded as works of art and collected as such. The craftsmanship involved in creating inrō, from the lacquerwork to the intricate carvings of the netsuke, is highly valued. Some older pieces are especially prized as examples of traditional Japanese art and craftsmanship.