Updated: December 30, 2015
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Japan's Traditional Crafts Product "Kiseru" (Japanese Smoking Pipe).

This time we will introduce the "Kiseru" from Japan's long history of traditional crafts.

Kiseru's History.

Representative for the Edo period's smoking tool, the "Kiseru" is originally believed to be an imitation of European and Southeast Asian's smoking tools, and was big and long.

The "finely-shredded tabacco" that was introduced during the middle of the Edo period, changed in form from then on, the pipe bowl in which you put the tabacco became more compact, and it became smaller and more portable.
And its design transformed into a richer shape.
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The Early Kiseru
・"Gankubi (pipe's head)", the pipe bowl that stays lighted for a day
・"Rao (bamboo pipestem)", the part of the trunk made out of bamboo
・"Suikuchi (mouthpiece)" in order to smoke tabacco
These form the core of the "Rao Kiseru".

Starting with the "Nobe Kiseru" which is made entirely of metal, is engraved beautifully, pipes made of wood, porcelain, glass and stone have started appearing.

It was once made in mainly in Aizu, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sasaguri, especially the Kiseru made in Sasaguri have a long history of over 200 years.

How To Smoke Using A Kiseru

1. Inserting the tabacco
Take hold of the pipe tobacco, and roll it up to the same size as the Kiseru.
If you roll it too firmly, it will be difficult for air to pass through.
Insert the rolled up tabacco in the pipe bowl.
Take care not to push it too hard, as it will be hard to smoke.
2. Lighting the fire
When you have inserted the tabacco, put the mouthpiece in your mouth, keep it a little away from your head and light the fire "Toobi (at a distance)".
If you inhale forcefully as with a regular paper-rolled cigarette, it will burn up straight away, so please watch out.
If you inhale slowly while enjoying it, you will also look smart and "Sui (stylish)".
3. Finish smoking
When smoke has stopped coming out, drop the ashes.
If you keep on smoking even though the fire has gone out, there is a risk of ashes entering your mouth.

When dropping the ashes, tap the Kiseru with the opposite hand.
Please do not drop against the ashtray as it will get damaged.


You can also smoke regular paper-rolled tabacco by cutting, and inserting it in the Kiseru.

4. Cleaning the bowl
Cover the bown with a tissue, and forcefully blow out the remaining ashes.
Wipe off any tar or ashes that won't come out with a tootpick or a cotton swab.

Maintaining The Rau

Different from the bowl you can clean frequently, tar and ashes also accumulate in the Rau.
Separate from the cleaning after you have finished smoking, please maintain it properly about once a week.

If you have a metal Nobe Kiseru, you can clean it as a whole, but the Rau part of the Rau Kiseru is made of bamboo, so cleaning that as a whole will reduce its life span.

Things To Prepare
・Mooru (Pipe cleaner), straw brush
"Mooru" is cleaning tool that is sold at tobacco shops that deal in Kiseru.
You can do without, but it is handy to have.
Also, there are "straw brushes" among the straw you can using for cleaning, sold at 100 yen shops. It is also handy to have this.
Since the resin in a Rau is oil-based, you will not be able to wash it away with water.
Recommended is ethanol used for disinfecting, and when you finish cleaning it, you can dry it simply by blowing.
Pour enough alcohol in a container you don't need anymore for the bowl to soak in, and put it the Kiseru.
All this is left is scrubbing the mouthpiece with a straw brush soaked in alcohol.

Lastly, wipe off any water inside the Rau with a tissue or so around the bowl and mouthpiece.
Take a tissue with some ethanol used for disinfecting, cover the bowl with it and blow. When you have dried the inside of the Rau, you are done.

"Tabacco Pouch", The Accessory Of The Common People At That Time.

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During the Edo period, there were strict regulations on the clothing of the common people.
Amidst that, the tabacco pouch was used as a modest accessory, and there were various shapes and varieties.
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Single-hanging Tabacco Pouch
A tabacco pouch to wear around your waist.
A type of bag in which you store tabacco, enclosed by a Netsuke (miniature carving attached to the end of a cord hanging from a pouch).
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Double-hanging Netsuke Tabacco Pouch
"Single-hanging Tabacco Pouch" with "Kiseru Tube" attached.
Both the bag and tube are attached to the Netsuke and is famous for its representative shape.
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Tabacco Pouch with Tube
Omitting the "Double-hanging Netsuke Tabacco Pouch"'s Netsuke part, and attaching the tube directly to your waist.

Since there are various types, it is also fun to choose your own one suiting your fashion.

Tabacco As "Luxury Item (嗜好品)"

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The character "嗜" includes the meaning "learn to appreciate good flavor when growing older".
Bans on smoking are advancing worldwide, but please enjoy it while protecting the manners and watching out for your health.

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