「ボンボニエールが紡ぐ物語」学習院大学史料館 “Stories spun by Bomboniere” Gakushuin University Museum


This time, I went to the autumn special exhibition “Stories spun by Bomboniere” in the exhibition room of the Museum in Gakushuin University, so I would like to report on it.


Gakushuin University has a long history as a school for the imperial family, and there are many historical materials and collections, and the imperial family is also involved in the research. The Bomboniere exhibited this time is also a valuable work related to the imperial family.

「ボンボニエールが紡ぐ物語」”Stories spun by Bomboniere”

ボンボニエール Bomboniere



“Bomboniere”, which is exhibited this time, is a word that translates French Bonbonniere into katakana Japanese as it is.

Bonbon Bonbon means sugar confectionery. With “iere”, it means a candy container or a candy container.

お菓子の歴史 History of sweets

少しお菓子の歴史をざっくりまとめてみると。。。Let’s take a quick look at the history of sweets. .. ..

  1. 古代エジプト時代:小麦粉を使ったパン技術の発展→パンに果実を取り入れてお菓子が生まれる
  2. ギリシャ時代:蜂蜜や果実を入れたりして発展→焼き菓子が生まれる
  3. ローマ時代:パンとお菓子が分離、職業として法律的にも承認
  1. Ancient Egyptian era: Development of bread technology using flour → Sweets are born by incorporating fruits into bread
  2. Greek era: Developed by adding honey and fruits → Baked confectionery is born
  3. Roman era: Bread and sweets separated, legally approved as a profession


With the development of sweets, the technology of sugar making has also developed. In history, sugar has been regarded as a valuable food. Established as a profession, sweets making was made for the celebration ceremonies of the wealthy. With the widespread use of sugar, sweets and the common people soon became popular.



Europe has a longer history and custom of sweets appearing in celebrations.

Birthday cakes, which have become commonplace for Japanese people, are said to have spread due to the influence of the US military after the war. The culture of Japanese wedding gifts also seems to have originally come from Italy.



In France and Italy, it is customary to distribute sweets in containers at the time of marriage or the birth of a child. And from its position as a souvenir for the celebration of confectionery, highly decorative confectionery with craftsmanship has been created.

And the above culture was introduced to the Japanese imperial family in the middle of the Meiji era.



In Japan, the imperial family has added a role of public relations overseas by using traditional Japanese techniques to decorate this confectionery “Bomboniere”.

It also played an important role in inheriting traditional techniques and protecting and nurturing craftsmen.

展覧会の展示構成 The composition of the exhibition



The composition of the exhibition was a story, which was roughly divided into seven.

I would like to summarize the outline and impressions together.

  1. ボンボニエールの始まりの物語 The story of the beginning of Bomboniere
  2. 外国との絆の物語 The story of bonds with foreign countries
  3. かわいいの物語 Cute story
  4. デザインとお印の物語 The story of design and seal
  5. 歴史の中の物語 Story in history
  6. 様々な形の物語 Stories of various forms
  7. 様々な材質の物語 Stories of various materials

The story of the beginning of Bomboniere



Bomboniere begins in an era of turbulent changes in Japan’s Westernization.

It is well known in history that the imperial family and the general public have adapted to unfamiliar Western culture through trial and error. Japan, which did not know the rules of international rituals, grew up accepting complaints from overseas.

年 Year出来事 Eventボンボニエール
The era name becomes the Meiji era
First Foreign Guest Hospitality: British Prince
There are complaints from the British side and they begin to adopt Western customs
1873明治天皇陛下 断髪、洋装
Emperor Meiji Haircut, Western clothing
Carnivorous ban lifted
Imperial banquet dishes changed to French cuisine
1883鹿鳴館 竣工→舞踏会開催
Completion of Rokumeikan →Dance held
1887皇后陛下 新年儀式に洋装ドレス→皇族・華族婦女子の洋装化
Her Majesty the Empress dressed up for the New Year ceremonies → Westernized royal family
Western-style fabrics and decorations → Use of domestic products and encourage decoration by traditional techniques
→ Relief of craftsmanship and preservation of traditional culture
→食後 ボンボニエール配られた 初ボンボニエール登場
Large-scale ceremonies and dinners at Meiji Palace
The first Bomboniere that was distributed after meals appeared
菊御紋 1400個
“Oxalis Kurozuka pattern”
chrysanthemum crests
1400 pieces
Empire of Japan Constitution Promulgation Ceremony: East Asia’s First Constitutional State
1894天皇皇后両陛下 銀婚式
Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress Silver Wedding Anniversary
→ Show that you have learned the Western-style ritual of the Japanese imperial family
Silver: Dress / Folding screen / Bomboniere
Suzuki Chokichi
A shape with a crane turtle on the rock on the lid
(For 621 people)
Crane turtle pattern on a perfect circular container
(For 1208 people)


Chokichi Suzuki, who was introduced in a past blog post, is involved in the production of Bomboniere. This crane turtle shape is wonderful no matter how many times you look at it.



After that, Bomboniere became established and became popular from the Taisho era to the early Showa era.

Bomboniere frequently appears during the coronation ceremony of Emperor Taisho and is distributed to guests.


The above three are said to have been used in the historical coronation ritual of Emperor Taisho, and although they are small mothers, they are made very finely and precisely, which shows the high level of craftsmanship.



At that time, it was made to order in a distributed manner to support mass production of thousands of pieces.

And at the time of the imperial wedding, Bomboniere was produced, which is filled with various forms of Japanese tradition.



Since the exhibition was prohibited from taking pictures, I will post a link to the page where the large photo is posted. If you are interested, please have a look.

The gifted Bomboniere seems to be kept carefully by the recipient.

外国との絆の物語 The story of bonds with foreign countries

  • 英国との絆 Bonds with Britain


In the Meiji era, the Japanese royal family deepened their ties, using the British royal family as an example. From then until now, the history of exchanges and bonds between the British and Japanese imperial families is long and deep.


In 1906, Prince Arthur of England came to Japan to present the Order of the Garter for the first time as the head of state of East Asia in the Emperor Meiji.


What is the Order of the Garter?
The Order of the Garter of England, founded by Edward III in 1348.
It is a very honorable thing, limited to 24 people in the UK.
Foreign kings have a separate frame for "special knights," which currently has only eight.
There is a rule that the medal will be returned when the recipient dies.

ガーター勲章 Order of the Garter

1906明治天皇 授与される Emperor Meiji is awarded
1918大正天皇 授与される Emperor Taisho is awarded
1929昭和天皇 授与される Emperor Showa is awarded
1941対米英開戦により昭和天皇の栄誉剥奪 Deprivation of the honor of Emperor Showa due to the opening of the war against the United States and Britain
1971昭和天皇 栄誉回復 Showa Emperor Honor Recovery


It is said that Emperor Showa was the only one in the long history of the Order of the Garter to regain the honor that was once deprived. We can see the history of the bond of trust between the Japanese royal family and the British royal family.


At the time of this award, of course, Bomboniere was prepared at the imperial banquet that was held, and at the time of the award of Emperor Taisho, a pattern with the Order of the Garter was also produced.


When His Majesty the Emperor Showa went to England when he was a prince, he was given a Bomboniere as an occasional gift to those who met the finest hospitality of the British royal family. After visiting many European countries for a long time and returning to Japan, the Bomboniere of “Dove and Globe” was produced at the feast of the return celebration.

参考写真:國學院大学博物館の企画展でのボンボニエール 写真左のボンボニエールが鳩と地球儀の物です。Reference photo: Bomboniere at a special exhibition at the Kokugakuin University Museum The Bomboniere on the left is a pigeon and a globe.


This Bomboniere, the three pigeons that spread the wings that support the globe, were very delicate and delicately crafted and caught my eye. Perhaps because it also contains a wish for peace, it is different from Bomboniere, which was created for celebrations such as marriage, and I personally have a very strong impression on it.

※参考写真/真ん中 鶴のボンボニエール: 大正天皇皇后両陛下ご結婚25年記念の宮中饗宴のものとされています。

Reference photo / Bomboniere of the crane in the middle: It is said to be at the time of the imperial feast commemorating the 25th anniversary of the marriage of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress Taisho.

かわいいの物語 Cute story


Bomboniere is cute by itself because of its small size, but when it comes to animal designs, it becomes even more cute.




Empress Kojun is famous for having loved the rabbit design for the rest of her life.

The rabbit figurine-shaped Bomboniere exhibited this time was also healed just by looking very cute.

Next to the Bomboniere, there was also a rabbit figurine made by Empress Kojun herself.

  • うさぎ置物形 Rabbit figurine shape
  • 犬張子形 Inu-hariko
  • でんでん太鼓形 Denden-daiko


The above three items were exhibited for this cute Bomboniere.

ポスターには犬張子形のボンボニエールが載ってます。Inuhariko-shaped Bomboniere is posted on the poster.

デザインとお印の物語 The story of design and seal


Each of the imperial family members has a seal attached to their personal belongings by saying “Oshirushi” instead of their signature.



In the olden days, people who served the nobles were afraid to say the name of the imperial family directly, so it seems to be a custom that was made to make it known by the “Oshirushi”.

It seems that the “Oshirushi” is decided when you become a royal family at birth or marriage.

Male royal family
Plants, letter (Kannji), etc.
Female royal family
Flowers, snow, stars, letter(Kannji), etc.

お印と由来一覧 List of “Oshirushi” and origins

梓 Azusa香淳皇后が考え、上皇ご夫妻で決定
Empress Kojun thought and decided on the Heisei Emperor and Empress
Empress Masako
Husband’s emperor received a strong impression in Hokkaido and decided
Princess Aiko
Parents decided “We want her to grow up with a pure heart like a pure white flower”
Crown Prince
Determined by grandparents and parents
Crown Princess
Iris setosa (Ayame Hiougi)
Derived from the flowers that Emperor Showa was interested in in Nasu Kogen
Princess Mako
Lady Banks’ rose
Both parents like this flower, and her mother decided
Princess Kako
ゆうな Yunaご両親とも熱帯的なお花がお好きで決定
Both parents love tropical flowers and decided
Prince Hisahito
Parents decided “We want him to grow up big and straight”



The “Oshirushi” seems to be filled with the wishes and thoughts of parents and their families.

At this exhibition, there was also an exhibition of Bomboniere (the Oshirushi “Hitsujigusa”) that was produced when Princess Sayako got married.

歴史の中の物語 Story in history



Bomboniere can be said to be a craft that has come along with the history of Japan.

Bomboniere, which represents the history of war, was also exhibited at this exhibition.

年 Year出来事 Eventボンボニエール Bomboniere
近衛師団長として北白川宮 能久親王が出征
The Treaty of Shimonoseki after the Sino-Japanese War puts Taiwan under Japanese rule
Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa departs as the leader of the Imperial Guard
→ Suffering from malaria, died in Tainan
Taiwan Shrine founded
Religious God: Prince Kitashirakawa
→ The first overseas line of duty death of the imperial family
After the Russo-Japanese War, the Treaty of Portsmouth
1907北海道方面 日本領土:北緯50度以南にて樺太庁設置
Hokkaido area Japanese territory: Karafuto Agency established south of 50 degrees north latitude
Emperor Showa visits Taiwan shrine when he was a prince
Emblem of the shrine and the Governor-General of Taiwan
1931閑院宮載仁親王 樺太・北海道方面視察
Prince Kan’in Kotohito Karafuto / Hokkaido area inspection
Karafuto prefecture crest
北白川宮 永久王が陸軍砲兵少尉に任官→数年後、死去
Nagahisa Kitashirakawa is appointed as Ensign of Army Artillery → Died a few years later
Manchurian Incident
砲弾形 Bullet shape
1933朝香宮 孚彦王 陸軍歩兵少尉に任官
Prince Takahiko Asakanomiya was appointed as Ensign of the Army Infantry
戦車形 Tank shape
1935朝香宮 正彦王 成人式
Prince Masahiko Asakanomiya Coming-of-age ceremony
魚雷形 Torpedo shape


Many of the imperial families have died in the war. Bomboniere was also produced in the form of weapons for the war, and it has become a historic relic because it remains today.

様々な形の物語 Stories of various forms


All the various shapes of Bomboniere are said to have been originally designed for each banquet or by order.


If I thought that it would be difficult to finish a large amount of Bomboniere on time, I heard that the work was stocked to some extent after production. At the time of the feast, not everyone was given the same Bomboniere, but several types were prepared for each guest and personalized. The consideration of hospitality and the size and tension of the role played by the imperial family are also conveyed.

参考写真・國學院大学博物館企画展写真撮影可ボンボニエール Reference photo ・ Kokugakuin University Museum Special Exhibition Photographable Bomboniere

日本的な意匠としては。。As a Japanese design

  • 兜(かぶと)Kabuto
  • 諫鼓鳥(かんこどり)Kanko-dori (Cuckoo bird)
  • 牛車 Gissya (Ox cart)
  • 駕籠(かご)Kago:A vehicle that creates a seat for people to ride on, passes a single ridge on top, and straddles the front and back.
  • 御座船 Goza-bune :Aristocratic ship



It is said that Bonbonniere was thought to play an important role in spreading the technological capabilities of Japanese culture and traditional crafts when brought back by foreign guests.

I think that it was considered to train craftsmen, inherit and stabilize technology, and maintain quality by adopting a pre-made production system.


In addition, in this exhibition, there were some elaborate things that made you forget that it was a vessel due to various shapes of Bomboniere. In the exhibition, it was exhibited in an open state, and it was possible to know where it would open.

様々な材質の物語 Stories of various materials


There was also an exhibition divided by material for this exhibition.

  • 漆 Japaneselacquer/Urushi
  • 七宝 Cloisonne
  • 陶磁器 Ceramic
  • プラスチック plastic


There were also several lacquer and lacquer bonbonnieres. It was a beautiful lacquer work that was elaborately made into a small box.


The lacquer work of only one crane was so detailed that I should have brought a monocular. The usage and composition of the margins well reflect the characteristics of Japanese art not found in Western Europe. And many of them have beautiful refined beauty.


Also, I don’t know the whole picture of Bomboniere in lacquer work, but I think that many of them were made with the crest of Arisugawanomiya, which I have seen in museums.


Most of Bomboniere is made of silver, but it seems that there were times when it was not possible to make silver Bomboniere due to lack of supplies during the war. Even under such circumstances, the culture that Bomboniere has built up was not lost. It can be said that the fact that we have continued to make various materials is an important traditional craft of Japan that the imperial family has carefully protected and handed down.


Today, the imperial family has changed dramatically with the changing times. I respect the imperial family members who have been doing traditional Japanese crafts and have lived on the brunt for their country. I think that it is because there are people who have accumulated the history of this country that I am now Japan and myself as a Japanese, and I must appreciate the opportunity to learn about that history.


.. .. .. Because when I was a student, I wasn’t really interested in studying, and I had some kind of curiosity and ability to act because of my youth. And, after a lot of failures and setbacks, I’m a little older and I’ve finally learned recently.



When I go abroad, for foreigners who do not know Japan, things made in Japan and small things related to Japan are all about knowing Japan. I think that small things and things can greatly affect the impression of Japan and the Japanese people. If you go to the West, you can see all Asians together. Of course, it cannot be said that there is no discrimination.

I am deeply moved when I see this little Bomboniere, thinking that it may have saved Japan at that time, and it may have saved the Japanese who are working hard overseas.


It’s been a long time, but this exhibition is a small Bomboniere with about 100 items, but it was very easy to understand because it was exhibited with one commentary for each story. I also missed Bomboniere, which I had seen before, and new discoveries and knowledge have increased again. If you take a closer look one by one, it will be worth seeing.


If you are interested, please come and visit there.


There was also an official article by a curator at Gakushuin University Museum, so I will link to it.

展覧会情報 Exhibition information

※この展覧会は会期が既に終了しています。(2022.2更新)This exhibition has already ended. (Updated 2022.2)


Please check carefully as it is open only on weekdays to prevent coronavirus infections.

参考文献 References

  • 小松大秀 監修『明治150年記念 華ひらく皇室文化 –明治宮廷を彩る技と美–』.青幻舎,2018
  • 学習院大学史料館 ミュージアムレター No.46, 2021
  • 國學院大学博物館 図録『企画展 有栖川宮家・高円宮家ゆかりの新収蔵品』,2019


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