A restaurant and bar located right next to each other in nishi azabu (西麻布):
The small heap of white stuff in front of the restaurant menu is salt. You see small mounds of salt in front of businesses from time-to-time in Japan. Salt has purifying qualities in Shinto, the native religion, but the explanations I’ve seen for this practice have a much more prosaic bent:
Restaurant proprietors used to put salt in front of their stores to attract the cows and horses that potential customers traveled with/on. The livestock would stop to lick the salt, giving the potential customer pause and perhaps enticing him into the shop.
Given the high cost of salt in pre-industrial economies, I have a little trouble buying this, but I’m happy to suspend disbelief.Posted by pmk at April 25, 2004 5:48 AM | TrackBack