Once you use Kuromoji(spicebush) toothpick, you’ll understand the fascination

The toothpick used at Nipponbashi Saruya are made of "kuromoji," a wood from the camphor tree family. Toothpicks are mainly used for cleaning between teeth after meals or for Japanese sweets, and are generally disposable. While the number of mass produced toothpicks is on the raise, I wonder what kind of attention is paid to the toothpicks that are handmade one by one by craftsmen using kuromoji.

The main characteristics of the spicebush toothpick are "its elasticity, high endurance, and resistance to break," says Yamamoto-san. "It doesn't get worn out. Once you use spicebush, you can't use others."

"Also, very fragrant. we use “Ohba Kuromoji” and it is the strongest fragrance type of spicebush." We got to try one, and a refreshing fragrance spread through. Kuromoji is also used in perfumes, cosmetics, and aromas etc. It is a very chic culture that you can smell the fragrance even when you are eating Japanese sweets.

An extra-fine "Jyuokaku Toothpick" represents Saruya. Those who want to make the toothpick itself thin are hand-shaved, but there are products that are machine-cut to a set size. "Currently there is only one artisan who can hand-shave. My father is studying now because he thinks he will be in trouble if he is not able to properly make and teach techniques.

"If you are told to make one beautiful toothpick, anyone can make one. You would be able to shape them in a couple of hours. It would be difficult to produce a lot of toothpicks in a short period of time as a product." To make toothpicks takes a time-consuming process, however we deliver with certain confidence to those who use them. They were proud of their handiwork and I could see their attitude of passing it on to future generations.