The exterior of the box is decorated with high-relief appliqués of simulated sword furnishings: ten tsuba, or sword guards, four small knife handles (kozuka), and one knife handle with blade; five of the sword guards are signed with the names of their putative makers. This kind of lacquer design was popularized by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891), who devised two different techniques for molding the appliqués and making repeat copies of them. Because repeat copies of the appliqués were possible, identical examples can be found on different boxes. On the top of this box, for example, as well as the top of nearly identical storage boxes in the Weston Collection and in the Hatakeyama Musuem in Tokyo is a knife with a design on the handle that features Shoki the demon queller standing on a bridge, while a small red demon hides from his sight by clinging to the piling of the bridge. A different signature is inscribed on each of the three blades, however. Both the box shown here and the Weston box have an identical sword guard design on the top featuring three dancing sparrows.
The yellow, red and green imitation-leather pattern with a bird and flower design on the interior of this box (also on the interior of the Weston box) is a rare stencil technique.
For comparable examples see Julia Meech, Lacquerware from the Weston Collection, A Selection of Inro and Boxes (New York: Christie's Inc., 1995), no. 45; Barbra Okada, A Sprinkling of Gold: The Lacquer Box Collection of Elaine Ehrenkranz (Newark: The Newark Museum, 1983), nos. 33-34; Goke Tadaomi, Shibata Zeshin meihinshu (Collected Masterpieces of Shibata Zeshin) (Tokyo: Gakken, 1981), pls. 56 and 58.