When samurai needed toothpicks during the Edo period, this store had everything they were looking for.

For all its skyscrapers and modern conveniences, Tokyo still has myriads of stores and businesses keeping old traditions alive in the streets of the city. One of these places is a little shop called Nihonbashi Saruya, which has a history dating all the way back to the time of the Edo Period (1603-1868), when it was established in 1704.

▼ The business first began when Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, ruled Japan.

Despite its beautifully modern storefront, this business in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district is steeped in tradition, selling something that no other shop in Japan specialises in: traditional toothpicks.

These particular toothpicks are commonly used at Japanese tea ceremonies to pick up the wagashi sweet served alongside powdered green tea. As Japan’s only specialty toothpick store, Saruya sells their signature product in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Most of the toothpicks sold here are a traditional type called “kuromoji“, which can be literally read as “black letters”, but also refers to a plant called Lindera umbellata, or Spicebush, which is native to mountainous areas in Shimane Prefecture. The products at Saruya have been made using superior wood from this plant since they first opened their doors.

One of their current bestsellers is this adorable Doraemon boxed set, which retails for just 1,100 yen (US$9.77) and includes 70 kuromoji.

Another highly recommended product is the “Jokaku Youji“, or “Upper Corner Toothpick“, which is said to be a more superior product to the kuromoji. This 20-piece set retails for 1,200 yen, with each piece individually wrapped in Japanese paper and sold in a beautiful box made from paulownia wood.

According to the staff at the store, the kuromoji are all cut with a machine, while the Jokaku Youji are hand carved individually by a craftsman.

Considerably thinner than the machine-cut varieties, the Jokaku Youji doesn’t break when bent, which is a testament to its quality. It also has a lovely aroma, which adds to the pleasure of using it.

All the products produced by the store are beautifully presented, making them a perfect souvenir or gift for friends and family, with the individually decorated boxes adding a beautiful touch to each purchase.

▼ Whether you’re a fan of Japanese anime or Japanese tradition, there’s something here for everyone!

Owning a traditionally crafted item with a history behind it that stems back to the Edo period is a rare treat for both visitors and locals in Japan. If you’re in the Nihonbashi area in Tokyo, this is definitely a store to put on your itinerary for a memorable shopping experience!

Store Information
Nihonbashi Saruya / 日本橋さるや
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-12-5
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Closed Sundays and public holidays
Website (Japanese)

Photos © SoraNews24
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