If you watch a lot of samurai movies or TV shows, you might have noticed that a toothpick is about as common a costume accessory as a set of paired swords. The reason isn’t because samurai were particularly fastidious about dental hygiene, though. Many fictional samurai stories re set in the Edo period, when the end of Japan’s centuries of civil war caused the warrior class’ power and prestige to begin slowly but surely eroding.
The samurai were a prideful bunch, though, and were loath to admit the new societal reality that swordsman had suddenly become a far less lucrative profession. So even if they couldn’t afford to regularly fill their stomachs, many would still lodge a toothpick between their teeth to give the impression that they’d just polished off a lavish meal fit for a man of high rank.
Of course, it takes more than just a toothpick to transform yourself into a samurai. You’ll also need to talk the talk, which is why these traditionally made Japanese toothpicks come individually wrapped with period-correct samurai phrases, and even helpful English translations and pronunciation guides.