Do you know oshibori?
To put it simply, oshibori is a mini-towel provided to customers mainly in restaurants. Before enjoying the delicious food, wipe your hands with it and then you can say "Itadakimasu". This is very common in Japan.
In addition, when you finally arrived at the inn for that night after a long, happy journey, a warm oshibori provided by the landlady would make you relax; or when you finished haircutting at a beauty salon, you could wipe your face with an oshibori given by the salon to refresh yourself after sitting for too long. Oshibori is not only a small hospitality offered by the shop side, but also an item that softens customers' hearts.
The origin of "oshibori"
So why is it "oshibori"?
The act of giving wet cloth to customers has a long history in Japan. It was said that the name "Oshibori" was established in the Edo period, because in those hotels, which was called "hatago" at that time, a bucket and tenugui were prepared at the entrance. Travellers arrived could moisten the oshibori with the water in the bucket and wring it, and then wipe their hands and feet with this tenugui. The act of "wringing", which is pronounced as "shibori" in Japanese, is said to be the origin of "oshibori".
In addition to towel oshibori, paper oshibori is also very common nowadays.
When you buy a bento at a convenience store, it is provided to you along with chopsticks.
Compared to traditional oshibori made of cloth, paper oshibori is disposable, smaller, more convenient than tissue paper, and easier to wipe away dirt because of its moisture content, which makes it popular all over Japan. According to the statistics of 2018 annual production, 6.8 billion pieces were produced!
(as of 2018, 6,841,000,000based on the production volume change graph by Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association)
What is oshibori like overseas?
Although originated in Japan, oshibori is gradually spreading overseas.
In the neighboring China, it soon became popular and many restaurants, mainly high-end ones, also offer oshibori. However, there are many stores providing oshibori for a fee, so please be careful!
While in Europe and America, oshibori is not very popular, for people usually wipe their mouths with napkins when eating. But in business class of overseas airlines, a warm oshibori will be provided. This was a service originally started by Japan Airlines, and other airlines began to follow this example after it was well received.
What do you think?
In fact, the "automatic towel hemming machine" has come into service in recent years. Push a single button, and a disposable oshibori will come out. A major feature is that it uses disinfectant instead of water. It's now widely adopted in the frontlines of medical and nursing field with high hygiene requirements, for it can sterilize easily and clean conveniently.
There is much "service" contained in such a small piece of oshibori!
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