Smoking Accessories

Smoking in modern Japan is basically a matter of taking a cigarette from a packet, lighting it, smoking it (often while walking) and (as often as not) throwing the stub onto the ground. Not so many years ago, though, it was a ritual, performed with a set of accoutrements that required the smoker to be seated, or at least standing still, and the preparation took as long as - or longer than - the process.



Even until fairly recently (say 20 or 30 years ago) it would not have been terribly surprising to see people - especially older people - smoking a fine-cut tobacco mix in a pipe with a very small bowl. The pipe generally fitted into a pouch or container, which was attached to another container for holding the tobacco and sometimes (as in this case) something on which to knock out the ash so it could be disposed of carefully. This is a simple, functional set. The pipe measures about 21 cm. (8.4 inches).


This is a slightly more sophisticated set, with a silver-plated mouthpiece.It's quite a bit smaller - 14.5 cm. (5.8 inches). Women also smoked, and generally used shorter-stemmed pipes like this one.


The "tabakobon" (tobacco tray) was in  use from the 17th century, and it was customary even in Meiji times to present guests with a set of smoking accessories that included a small charcoal burner and a tinderbox. I don't have a genuine tabakobon (I'm still looking for one of the right vintage and in the right condition), but this is an interesting adaptation of the idea dating from (I think) the 1950s or 60s. Metal containers (with a design in different coloured metals giving a "takamaki-e" effect) for cigarettes, matches and ash are provided on a tray measuring 23.5 cm. (9.5 inches). There is no manufacturer given, just a "Made in Japan" stamp on the underside of the tray.

RBIJ main page     home     next     contact me