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Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth century, and along with it came the custom of making altar offerings of flower baskets and bamboo flower baskets.
In normal circumstances, bamboo baskets rarely survive the passing of time due to daily use and the perishable nature of the material. However, the imperial repository, Shosoin, which was built during the Nara period (710- 794) and contains the largest number of early artifacts in Japan, preserves examples of bamboo crafts, of which more than five hundred are flower baskets.
As with other objects in the repository, many of the flower baskets are probably of foreign origin. Appreciation of Chinese gift baskets continued to the time of Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436- 1490), the eighth shogun in the Muromachi period.
Tradition credits Yoshimasa for the first use of a bamboo basket for secular flower arrangement. An enthusiast for emulating Chinese culture, Yoshimasa most likely used a basket imported from China to re-enact a cultural activity prevalent there.
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