Monday, April 20, 2009


Japanese erasers?

As if it were needed, here’s more evidence that I’m fairly clueless about current pop culture. I can watch a TV series like Life on Mars and know every song on it, including all the words. I can remember clearly when Shoop Shoop Hula Hoops, Super Balls, and Pet Rocks were new.Sign, 'Now In: Japanese Erasers'

But Pokémon completely passed me by. And the first time I heard Paris Hilton’s name, I thought they were talking about a hotel in the French capital.[1] Really.

And so it was when I saw the sign over there on the right (click for full size). Why, I wondered, are Japanese erasers different from those from any other country? And why should I be excited that the store now had them? And how many people need erasers any more? Don’t we do everything on computers?

Happily, Google now erases (um, sorry) all ignorance. A quick search produced this page, among many others. Indeed; one doesn’t use these erasers, at least not to erase anything. One collects them; one treasures them. Consider this gem, from the aforelinked page:

There was a time when one dollar cannot buy much of value, but now that one dollar can be a best quality Japanese Iwako eraser, a little pocket pet to be with you 24 hours a day. You don’t need to be rich or powerful, all it takes is one dollar to have a true friend to be with you wherever you go. You can save up another dollar to get a new companion for your little eraser pet.

A new companion. You wouldn’t want just one, lonely eraser, would you? That’d be... heartless.

I can, though, connect all this stuff about erasers back to my own cultural awareness, through the lyrics of Bill Horowitz, and make those much younger than I go running to Google for a history lesson:

If I had a friend like Miss Rosemary Woods,
How simple my life would be.
I’d just give all my problems to Rosemary Woods
And she would erase them for me.

[1] Yes, yes, I know better now, though I rather wish I didn’t.


Thomas J. Brown said...

I grew up in Honolulu (where there is a strong Japanese culture influence) and this was pretty common. We had erasers. We had eraser boxes. We bought eraser collections, traded erasers, and yes, treasured them.

I wonder if I still have any of mine...

Anonymous said...

Yes, these erasers are quite the rage in the middle schools (grades 6, 7 and 8). They trade them. They come in many shapes such as food, cars, animals, etc., and they also come with different scents -- mostly fruits and vegetables. We'll have to see if this lasts as long as the pet rock or beanie babies!

Laurie said...

Some of those erasers were eco-friendly, but it didn't say whether or not they were edible. I know it's only a dollar, but I want to know why a piece of cake wants a friend.

Anonymous said...

They are pretty cute. My niece and all of her friends apparently collect and trade them, so I bought a bunch from this online store called Hapa Culture and they had all kinds of really cute ones. I was tempted to get some for myself!