"[N]early all Japanese people have figurines, anime or cartoon characters hanging from their mobile phones — for the most part without realizing they are in their mass-produced, contemporary way keeping alive the nation's netsuke tradition. In contrast, those netsuke on Kuroiwa's phone are the real deal — small, delicate, uniquely crafted sculptures in ivory and an assortment of woods." Julian Littler searches for traditional ivory netsuke carvers (print view; standard web view), and interviews Akira Kuroiwa, a member of the Japan Ivory Sculptors Association (Google auto-translation). [via MetaChat] [more inside]
Netsuke of the Meiji Period is an online exhibit from the Los Angeles County Museum, noted for the depth of its collection. (more). The György Ráth Museum and the Ferenc Hopp Museum also house a fine classic collection. (more). Today, netsuke carving is alive and well - see the Kiho Collection for one young master. If you would like to explore more sculpture for the hand, the International Netsuke Society has a good link list to many excellent contemporary netsuke artists.