Wednesday, August 24, 2016

But Why a Pig-Shaped Mosquito Coil Holder?!?

I recently got this very cool summer greeting card (with sound effects!) from a former kindergarten student in Osaka. Please take a good look at it. If you are Japanese, does it take you back to your childhood (懐かしい)?

I've been in Japan long enough to understand most of the things in the room - from the wind chime (風鈴) moving in the cool night breeze to the the mosquito coil's (蚊取り線香) smoke keeping away mosquitoes.

But why, I wondered, is the mosquito coil holder pig-shaped (かやりき/かやりぶた)? I mean, pigs aren't connected to summer in any way. Not knowing the answer caused me a little stress.

(Illustration by Robby Watson. See more of his awesome work on Instagram.)

So I asked my English impact students. And, surprisingly, no one could tell me, which caused me even more stress.

Fortunately, in this day and age, we have the internet to solve these kinds of mysteries. So a little Google search turned up this answer from wanderlust japan's website.

"The pig incense holder is said to have originated in Aichi prefecture, in a town known for its ceramics, Tokoname. Apparently pigs in this town were getting bothered by mosquitoes, so the villagers would take ceramic pots out to them with the incense inside.  The opening of the pot was too wide and the incense was having little effect. When it was decided to make the opening smaller, the villagers decided to make it into a pig snout. They sold these incense holders as souvenirs and the pig became extremely popular. They now come in other shapes as well."

So now we all know why mosquito coil holders are pig-shaped. And I can enjoy summer even more now without the stress of ignorance. In fact, I think I'll crack open a bottle of beer - like the one in the picture - and... 

Wait a minute.... Why is there a glass next to the bottle of beer?!? That doesn't make any sense. Oh, English impact students, I have another question for you...🎶

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