What was I given recently in a Japanese restaurant?
May 20, 2006 10:08 PM   Subscribe

At a local traditional Japanese restaurant a while ago, the server brought a little fabric ball with a bell on a string with our check where you'd usually expect mints. She made it clear that it was for us to take, but we didn't learn anything more about it, and now I'm wondering if there's any symbolism, meaning or tradition behind it. There's a picture and

That's a Canadian quarter for size, same size as an American one. The fabric-covered ball part itself is really more clam-shaped, clasped onto the cord. The little ball above it is a little bell like you'd see on a cat collar.

Can anyone tell me anything more about this little thing?
posted by mendel to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've just asked my wife, who is Japanese, and she said there is no meaning or symbolism to it that she's aware of. It is exceedingly common in Japan for keychains and cell phone charms (which the above is - in case you weren't sure what it was FOR) to have bells on them - you'll also see them on walking sticks and the like - a folk tradition to keep evil spirits at bay. The material itself is Japanese silk in traditional patterning. It's a promo item with a little more class than a pen with the name of the restaurant on it.
posted by birdsquared at 12:23 AM on May 21, 2006

Bells are generally considered lucky here, and for some reason "refreshing". We got a free beer-mug with a bell inside it so it jingled whenever you drank, and the local friends said it was "refreshing".

People will very often were bells on their bags, purse, phones etc as its lucky. Also incredibly annoying to gaijins to have that constant noise :)
posted by lundman at 7:08 PM on May 21, 2006

A canadian quarter? Mendel why do you hate America?
posted by CCK at 5:35 PM on May 22, 2006

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