The Royal County Arbiter

05 December 2005

Clean your hands

If there was one custom I could import from Japan, it would be the use of oshibori. Oshibori are Japanese moist hot towels provided in restaurants for cleaning one's hands before eating; this is the kind of thing we usually get on long-haul flights and self-consciously put on our faces.

The fancier eateries use real little terry hand towels which often come to your table sealed in plastic despite being all hot and steamy but the majority of cafes and restaurants provide disposable 'moist towelettes' (these, for example) called kamioshibori or paper oshibori. Even fast food joints will give you oshibori without fail. All apart from McDonalds, the dirty bastards.

The kamioshibori plastic wrappers usually feature relentlessly insipid 80s-style designs with pastel colours and brush-stroke fonts. These specimens, however, appeared on a towelette given to us at a hip little cafe in Kobe:

Japanese moist towelette packaging

I can count about nine fingers on one of those crazy hands! And I can't even begin to understand the TOOTH TOOTH TOOTH.

You know, I'd always assumed that the hot oshibori I got when dining out were microwaved but it turns out that restaurants have special oshibori machines. I wonder how much it would cost to get one for my home...

For people who can't get enough of moist towelettes there are two (two!) online moist towelette collections to peruse: John French's museum and Michael Lewis' gallery.


Blogger ben:

I have teeth! What do I win?

The Pete Doherty doll?, Dad i dont like it...Dad....DAAAAAADDDDDDD.

Lots of love,
Mr Tickle

10:22 pm  
Blogger Darrell:

"TOOTH TOOTH TOOTH" is the sound you make when you've got something stuck inbetween your front teeth and are trying to remove it with the tip of your tongue.

So I can only assume the napkin is there to provide subtitles for the deaf.

Probably at the request of john40dalek.

10:27 pm  
Anonymous monk!house?:

Perhaps it is supposed to say TOOTH YOUR HANDS as the hands themselves look pretty chewed up, and then CLEANCLEANCLEANCLEANCLEANCLEAN? (As in, the mess that results from biting ones own hands.)

It could be the start of a new line of cafes where the customer eats themselves!

/rings patent office

10:57 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:

It's plainly obvious that the hands are twiddling some oddly-positioned nipples.

That's all I have to say at the present time.

7:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Nice Moose

8:00 am  
Anonymous Soup:

Plastic-sealed hot towels are a wonderful thing. For me they are redolent of provincial dining (such things are sneered at in the modern city, alas) and I was delighted to be given one during a recent visit to an East-Anglian Indian restaurant. Sadly, they are always offered at the end of a meal. Perhaps English restaurateurs think it rude to imply - however subtly - that their guests may not have washed their hands before sitting down to eat.

12:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I have a moist towelette from NYC with an American flag on one side, and on the other it says, "the proceeds from the sale of this moist towelette are going to the fight against terrorism."


4:02 am  

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