“Bushi wa kuwanedo Takayouji” Bringing stylish Edo culture to the present day
Nihonbashi Saruya, established in 1704, a long-established toothpick specialty store that has been in business for over 300 years since the Edo period. Ryota Yamamoto, is the ninth generation owner. The store is now celebrating its seventh anniversary since moving to its current location in 2013 from Nihonbashi Koamicho, where it is said to be the place of establishment. "It's a toothpick specialty store for both interdental and Japanese sweets. There were many toothpick shops around the time of the third generation of Tokugawa, however the stores gradually dwindled and our store is the only one left."
When asked about the origin of the store's name, there were two theories. “Monkeys don't have cavities and their teeth are white. That's why it is written in the literature of the Genroku era that monkeys are good for toothpick shop signboards and the first is the theory it was adopted from there. The other is in the old days, people took around monkeys like sales girls and sold toothpicks and they were called "Saruya" which I believe in the second theory. "
Toothpicks are now commonly used, but they have changed significantly from their original shape. "In the Edo-period, there was a set of toothbrush called "Fusayoji" and an interdental brush combined, which changed its shape to become the thin toothpicks style we see today. During the Meiji period, Western-style toothbrushes were introduced, and the use of Fusayoji decreased with the spread of toothbrushes.
Although toothbrushes are more convenient when it comes to cleaning teeth, Yamamoto says the toothpick culture will not disappear. "Toothpicks are an after-meal etiquette. They are also a symbol of stylish Edo culture, as the phrase"Bushi wa kuwanedo Takayouji" and toothpick has become a symbol of stylish Edo culture.