A very handsome and utilitarian Japanese lacquer Jubako with five tiers, which can be stacked in groups of three, four or five tiers as the situation required. This set is shown with all five stacked and also the five tiers grouped into two sets of two tiers and three tiers. The outside of the tiers and cover are covered with a number of fine makie gold lacquer designs on a black roiro ground – mostly of Buddhist symbols. When stacked as a five tier unit, it measures 7” high by 7” by 7 ½” near square. When only two are stacked, they measure 4 ½” by 7 “ by 7 ½”. They are in generally good condition except that both lids have a separation at the edge where the lacquer cracked. Nonetheless, they make a fine way of transporting food to a special occasion by tying them with a silk cord on all four sides. We date the set to the early Showa period, circa 1950-1960s.
The Japanese used something both beautiful and utilitarian called a jubako, a tiered set of containers. These typically came with four stackable food tiers, though some sets have five tiers. Jubako boxes come in various shapes such as cylindrical or hexagonal, but the most common is square. They came into wide use around 1610 and are still widely used in Japan, often for sushi or picnics, Such boxes have special significance during the Japanese New Year, which, like ours, is now celebrated Jan. 1. Osechi cuisine is the special food prepared to celebrate the New Year in hopes of health, happiness and a good harvest. Each tier is packed with a specific kind of food, each with a particular meaning.