Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Salt and Tobacco

Day 21 (-10) Japlish
I'm sure I make mistakes in my Japanese language, but I love seeing the interpretation of things English into quaint Japanese. As well as this shop (good cheap household products, hopefully giving you more than 3 minutes of happiness), my hair salon advertises "hair make" (cuts and make up).
I'm not sure what smell is about, but the store looked OK.


Today I went to an unusual Museum that originally I had not thought of visiting . At an exhibit of leisure time in old Edo, they had some beautiful exhibits that were listed as being at the Salt and Tobacco Museum so I headed there today near Shibuya Station.
The combination of the two products is related to the huge commerce and tax on these over the years.Though I must admit I have never really thought about where salt came from the process I mean. Japan had no natural source of salt, no rock salt or salt plains, but this deficit led to innovative technology.
Japan Tobacco
, (company) 50% of whose stock is held by the government, with the other 50% traded on the Japanese stock exchanges has origins dating back to Japan’s tobacco monopoly introduced in the 16th century. They were organized as a company in 1898 and also given a monopoly on salt. They’re still a cash cow today.
The percentage of smoking adults in Japan is the fourth highest in the world, behind South Korea, China, and Russia. JT manufactures foreign brands for sale in Japan through licensing agreements and controls 80% of the market. Cigarettes are sold through vending machines,placed in the streets, and I read a recent article (May 08) about a new vending machine that can detect if the purchaser is a minor. This newly developed machine has a built-in camera that measures facial wrinkles, pupil size and other features. But I think people said you could hold a picture in front of it and it accepted that. Seems simpler to have them only sold by people in shops.
In Japan, introduced around 1600, the plant's leaves were shredded into strands as thin as individual hairs -- a practice not found in other parts of the world. While there is no clear reason for this method of utilizing tobacco, it led to the development of unique long thin pipes and other smoking paraphernalia that evolved into sophisticated art objects, incorporating engravings and embroidery. The Netsuke was the ivory or bone bead on these pouches and are now collectors items.

As well the museum has a collection of about 1,700 ukiyo-e woodblock prints portraying tobacco and salt use during the Edo period, many of which were incorporated into the display.
As well as their general exhibits on Salt and Tobacco they had a special exhibition of Shiko-hin culture. This is the term used to describe products and items that we feel bring enjoyment to everyday life. Sake, Green tea ,coffee and tobacco were the items in this display. It was really well done with tea room, coffee shop and sake shop set up, and diorama of tobacco. preparation. Lots of beautiful pipes, bowls, tobacco pouches, enameled smoking set of bowl and pipes,tea caddies, samovars, china cups and saucers etc

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