This small ivory netsuke may have functioned as the top for a perfume bottle. The carving represents three oni (demons) wearing patterned shorts. The oni on the left is bent over, holding a large cylindrical bowl. The oni in the middle is scratching his head and is seated on a square stool that an octopus is scaling, its legs spread between the stool and the bucket. The oni on the right-hand side is standing behind the middle oni with his right hand on the shoulder of the seated one and his left hand raised at his torso.
Oni, a kind of yokai (supernatural creature) from Japanese folklore, are considered to be creatures similar to demons, ogres, and trolls. Oni are very often represented in visual art, literature, theater, and popular culture in Japan. Oni may take varying forms, but fairly consistently are large and grotesque creatures with claws and horns. They have human-like bodies but are often red or blue and may have extra eyes or fingers. They are usually shown wearing loincloths and carrying clubs (their weapon of choice). Oni are known for being exceptionally strong.