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楊枝

Picks

Nihonbashi Saruya is the only specialty store in Japan for yoji (Japanese picks). Established about 300 years ago, it has continuously supplied picks to Japanese people since the Edo era.

In Japan, mass-produced picks made of Japanese white birch are the most popular. However, long ago, picks were made from many different types of trees, including willow, white willow, and deutzia. Saruya picks are made from kuromoji tree wood, which is prized for its flexibility and aromatic scent. Even now, craftsmen hand-carve these picks, one by one.

The store master, Ryota Yamamoto, explains, “Many fans just refer to these picks as kuromoji rather than kuromoji yoji. There’s an attractive quality about kuromoji that can’t be found in any other kind of yoji.

“Let me tell you this,” he continues. “Here’s why we pay so much attention to a small detail like a pick. We believe it shows the spirit of iki.”

Iki is an aesthetic ideal of Japanese commoners regarding what’s chic, cool, and sophisticated in fashion and attitude. While inexpensive, convenient mass-produced yoji may be “good enough” for use, people continue to value cool details. Saruya picks play a role in passing on the iki legacy of style.

However, Nihonbashi Saruya doesn’t just stick to traditional values. This store develops new products while paying scrupulous attention to packaging. Kuromoji picks are used by premier restaurants and are also popular gifts. For example, Samurai Yoji picks may intrigue international visitors. The wrappers display short Edo era samurai expressions in Japanese like Matarei (“Please wait!”) and Korenite gomen (“Goodbye now!”) with English translations. These picks are inexpensive, and they make ideal gifts.

Nihonbashi Saruya
http://www.nihonbashi-saruya.co.jp/

Packaging for picks. From left, Sanbaso (offers congratulations for a good grain harvest), Ooiri (celebrates success in drawing many visitors), Kumadori (a type of kabuki makeup), and Kin-senryo (means both “million dollars” or “big success”). All of these good wishes represent traditional Japanese culture (noh, kabuki, and their performers).

Samurai yoji (picks). 950 yen for 40 kuromoji picks (excluding tax).

Yoji in decorative Japanese wrappers attract attention.

Japanese sake
日本酒
Wrapping
ラッピング
Daruma
達磨
Cosmetics
化粧品
Mt. Fuji
富士山
Kaminari-mon
雷門
Public bathhouse
銭湯
Decorate anything
デコる
Asakusa
浅草
Ooedo Onsen Monogatari
大江戸温泉物語
Edo kiriko
江戸切子
Yakatabune
屋形船
Kachaashii
カチャーシー
Sanshin
三線
Village of Long Life
長寿の里
Lunch “A”
Aランチ
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One Piece
Japan
Final Fantasy VI
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Neon Genesis EVANGELION
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Lupin III
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Cute community character promotes local charms.
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宿坊
Moon watching
観月の夕べ
Suguki pickles
すぐき漬け
Ippon udon
一本饂飩
3D LATTE ART
the ultimate shape of art to come — too cute to drink?
BRAIN WAVE CAT EARS
cutting-edge tech joins Japan’s “fetish” (moe) culture
OTAKU CAMERA
the app that makes anyone a manga character
GAME BAR
a gathering spot for grownups where old games are available
URUSHI
漆芸
WHISKY
ウイスキー
TEMPURA
天婦羅
RAMEN
ラーメン
KOHEI NAWA
HISASHI TENMYOUYA
YAYOI KUSAMA
TABAIMO
AWA ODORI
MENBURYU
SANJA MATSURI
NIIHAMA TAIKO MATSURI
KYUDO
弓道
KARATEDO
空手
NIHONBUYO
日本舞踊
NOH