You may have seen unique boutiques in Japan that sell expensive fruits, lacquerware, traditional dresses, and more. Even though Japan has become a beacon of modernization in this new age, there are still a lot of traditional things that the country holds onto with utmost value. In Tokyo, there is a store that can take you back to the samurai times when toothpicks were a particular part of tea tradition and cuisine. Let’s have a look at this rare and fascinating boutique, probably the only one in the country that sells literally tens of varieties of superior toothpicks.
Most of us like to think of Kyoto as a region where Japanese traditions are best kept alive. However, Tokyo has some places such as Nihonbashi Saruya that sells traditional toothpicks where you can transition into a different world amidst the modernity.
Nihonbashi Saruya is unlike any other boutique as it has around 300 years of glorious history, started off during the shogunate of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi to supply high-quality toothpicks made exclusively for royalty and samurais.
Located in the modish area of Nihonbashi, the store welcomes you with an elegant storefront that says, “SARUYA: Established 1704.” With such history and unique tales to tell, this store has been upholding Japanese traditions by supplying toothpicks for tea ceremonies in attractive packs.
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You can easily find the usual variety of toothpicks (“kuromoji” in Japanese) in stores such as DAISO for an astoundingly cheap price. However, if you are quality conscious and want to explore other varieties, you should definitely step into the Saruya store in Nihonbashi.
Out of all their exclusive products, the most interesting “Samurai Toothpicks” are a must-buy as each one was carefully crafted out of spicebush (Lindera umbellata), which is sourced from the dense hilly areas of the beautiful Shimane Prefecture.
For a little over a thousand yen, you can take home two little packs of these samurai toothpicks. Altogether, it contains 40 individually paper-wrapped samurai toothpicks with designs of warriors and servants on its covers, along with basic Japanese phrases that are actually uttered by good old men and their English translations. Saruya’s toothpicks not only remind us of the feudal era’s lavish dinner style but also the language and pronunciation through the packaging.
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If you put aside the historical aspect of the store, you can actually see that the toothpicks being sold are sturdy, thin, and well cut to do their job perfectly without hurting your teeth. They even enhance the after-meal pleasure by keeping your mouth fresh with their natural aroma.
They also have high-quality and unbreakable handcrafted toothpicks called the “Jokaku Youji.” However, be prepared to spend around 1,200 yen to get 20 of these fragrant wooden picks that come in a cool box.
Do pay a visit to this rare store and take home some toothpicks to use while having Japanese sweets. There are boxes for everyone, with cool packaging designs and references to anime and Japanese culture in general. Even though the samurai culture has faded out today, you can still catch glimpses of it with the help of these kinds of stores.
Nihonbashi Saruya Website *Japanese only