Getting away from food for the moment, perhaps my earliest encounter with a Japanese "meibutsu", is a very ordinary thing. It's a humble pot scrubber with a tortoise logo. Kamenoko Tawashi - literally "young tortoise scourer" has been around for over 100 years, but I first heard of it through the awesome Osaka band, Shonen Knife. See, I'm a true child of the '90s. Their song "Tortoise brand pot cleaner, specially selected pot cleaner, the best pot cleaner in the world is specially selected tortoise brand..." is so inane, but it stuck in my head. So when I saw the real thing, I had to get it. It's great that such an ordinary item can take me back to those days of Stone's Ginger Wine, The Big Day Out and the old Century Tavern on George & Liverpool Sts in Sydney. And at only 315 yen it would make a very cheap souvenir! It's wonderful in its simplicity - the bristles, made of coconut fibre, are finer and more flexible than cheaper versions, it's bound with rope and finished off with a wire hanger. The packaging hasn't changed much in about 100 years, except it's plastic now. It can't be improved. It just is, the best pot cleaner in the world.
|It does what it says on the tin.|
Here's a link to the company's website: kamenoko-tawashi. They're based near Itabashi Tokyo, so you could say this is a meibutsu of North Tokyo. If you want to hear the Shonen Knife song (the English version; there's also an original Japanese version on the Burning Farm EP), here it is: Shonen Knife Let's Knife
|Earlier packaging, from the company website.|
|They now also make a questionable range of 'cute' animals. I think I'll pass.|
|The band that started it all.|