This miniature wood netsuke represents two figures. One is a bearded, grumpy-looking old man, half reclining with head on hand and wearing a floral patterned kimono. An open book lies beside him and two other books lie at his side by his foot. Standing behind him is an oni (demon), wearing armor and carrying a sword and a small pouch tucked into the back of his belt. He is holding his head with his left hand and pointing to his eye with his right. He has grotesque facial features and two horns poking out of his skull.
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.