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This thin cotton towel has been largely replaced as a toilet article by tufted Western-style cotton towels but it is still used for many purposes for which tufted towels are too thick and heavy. It is a long, narrow piece of fabric, often bearing traditional designs in indigo-blue.
The tenugui is still an essential part of Japanese working costume, either worn around the neck or tied around the head, and it also appears as an accessory in many Japanese folk dances. By tradition, tenugui are given as a token gift on festive occasions, bearing the name of the donor.
The Japanese name card (meishi) is similar to its Western counterpart in being a small oblong card giving the owner's name, title, company, address and so on. However, in Japan it is not simply a reference but, rather, an essential part of the process of meeting strangers on all but very informal occasions. In Japan, the company or group to which a person belongs is more important than his qualities as an individual and a man's position in that company is extremely important to the dynamics of any kind of meeting; the meishi provides an instant status-reference and allows business introductions to proceed smoothly. On a more practical level, the meishi indicates the correct characters to be used when writing the person's name (due to the complexity of the Japanese language, this is not always apparent from sound alone).
Japanese workers and their dependents are covered by health insurance schemes that provide a contribution towards the cost of medical treatment, or, in some cases, pay the total cost. Of the Japanese population of 103,720,060 in 1970, virtually all were covered by either government or corporate schemes. The government scheme – participated in by 40% of the population – allows for payment of 70% of the medical costs of the head of the household and his dependents. Corporate schemes, either government-controlled or independently organised, provide variable benefits of up to 100% for employees and dependents. Very large companies invariably organise their own private schemes in conjunction with corporate medical facilities. Various schemes exist for special categories of workers such as civil servants, casual labourers and seamen.
This is a personal seal, either round or square in outline, carved into the cross-section of a small block of wood, crystal, stone, ivory or, recently plastic. The name inscribed may be the owner's family name only, his full name including his given name, or his professional name, and the name may be inscribed in one of several different calligraphic styles. Thus, a seal can be made to match exactly the personality, taste and pocket of the owner. Most Japanese people use an inexpensive seal giving their family name only, and this is a legal "signature." But for many official transactions a more elaborate seal, registered with the local government office, must be used.
Basically, the furoshiki is a square wrapping cloth made of silk, artificial silk or cotton. The object to be wrapped is placed crosswise on the cloth and opposing corners are carefully tied together so as to make a neat parcel. On one level, the furoshiki is a kind of instant shopping bag, carrier bag or briefcase. As part of Japanese social custom, however, it has been used for generations as the essential outer wrapping to any important gift. Naturally, the more important the gift, the more costly the furoshiki in which it is presented. At weddings, for example, the gift for each guest is wrapped in a specially-ordered furoshiki bearing a felicitous design.
The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.
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