Tokyo Notebook

-・- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -・- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.

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Posted by Kinakinw | --:-- | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | スポンサー広告

18 2010

Mobile phone Charms and Netsuke

A famous Japanese theater director exposed his ignorance on TV few days ago.
Taking mobile phone charms (or straps, 携帯ストラップ) for example, Mr. Noda asserted that more Japanese are acting in a childish manner.

This is my sister’s mobile phone.

At the beginning of diffusion of cell-phones in Japan, most of the charms were simple lanyards to help users hold their phone. However, now many people personalize their mobile phones with variety of charms.

I understand that the charm is a contemporary version of netsuke (根付) that was developed in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868).

It seems that netsuke can be defined in two ways: as antique art and commodities.

According to International Netsuke Society, a netsuke is a form of miniature sculpture served both functional and aesthetic purposes. A small toggle called netsuke was attached to a cord to stop it from slipping when men suspended a pouch from kimono sash. Netsuke often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays of rare and exotic material (e.g. wood, ivory, precious metals, shell, coral, and semi-precious stones).
There are many keen collectors all over the world, and items made by master craftsmen in the Edo period are traded at a really high price.

netsuke2 netsuke3

In modern Japan, a charm or a little figure attached to a cord is also called netsuke, and it has been a product familiar with the public from long, long before mobile phones were developed. For many Japanese who has a netsuke culture, it’s natural to attach it to a purse or a wallet now and forever.


It's hard for Japanese to miss the mobile phone’s hole that is convenient for attaching it.

A netsuke collector, Shingo Ymaguchi (山口真吾) takes a same view with me that dolls and figures of phone charms have originated as netsuke in the Edo period. Indeed, a phone charm is often called “a netsuke strap.” Some people use traditional netsuke as phone charms.

Look at the wonderful antique netsuke collection.

netsuke5 netsuke6

netsuke7 netsuke8

They are only 2 - 4 centimeters tall.
In the Edo period, men used the pouch with netsuke. Some of them look too lovely for men, but it was a sense of fun with style.

Some people who don’t know our culture might find it intriguing that men and women of all ages use phone charms and say, ‘How strange!’ The others might make a wrong assumption that the charms show Japanese juvenility.

Kinakinw gets fed up with the simple Japanese who follow the irrelevant accusation blindly.


Posted by Kinakinw | 17:56 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Cultural Issue (Japan)

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