The karabitsu (literally "Chinese chest") is a rectangular chest resting on four legs. The denomination of these kind of chest already exists since the Nara period (645 AD–794 AD) and although the origin of the name remains obscure, since no Chinese example is known today, the hypothesis of an importation from the continent remains the most likely. The oldest surviving Japanese examples date from the 12th century.
The particularly "rich" decoration for the local taste, seems to indicate a work made for export. Thus, given the cost of the shipping, its exceptional size and its decoration, this chest must have been considered at the time as an exceptional piece and particularly expensive on the European market.