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Summer Eye's Joy of Knowing

Exploring Unusual Pairings: The Museum of Tobacco and Salt

2023.9.27

#ART

Serialization “Summer Eye’s joy of knowing
The Japanese characters for Tomoyuki Natsume, also known as Summer Eye, mean joy of knowing. He embodies the happiness and joy of knowing and learning, visited the Tobacco & Salt Museum in Sumida-ku. The exhibition rooms are divided into two parts, Salt and Tobacco. And the curators of each section provide explanations to visitors as they go. Summer Eye created an illustration of Summer Eye brand cigarettes as this is the Tobacco section.

Why are Tobacco and Salt in the Same Museum?

Why do an essential item salt and a luxury item cigarettes sit together in the same building? I assume everyone would ask that question. And the curator of the museum asked me the same question. He seemed happy when I told him I had no idea. “I knew it!” he said (he still looks happy.) “But let’s put that aside for now, Anyway, the exhibition begins with the history of tobacco! This way, please!.” That’s how it started this time and what jumped out at me were the ruins of the Mayan civilization! The tour started with a lot of confusion.

Cigarettes started in South America. Later, it spread to Central America and North America. The relief of a “smoking god” at the Palenque ruins of the Mayan civilization in Mexico is the oldest existing document showing the connection between tobacco and humans! It’s so cool! It’s worth coming to the museum just to see this!

The god is smoking and exhaling a cigar-like substance. It looks almost the same as the way we smokes now. But the reliefs and designs are so cool. It is quite psychedelic. Nowadays, cigarettes can be bought at convenience stores, but in those days, cigarettes were used as offerings to the gods and as a magical remedy. Further reading reveals that smoking was only allowed to the privileged classes such as aristocrats and warriors, but as it was used at weddings and other occasions, it gradually spread to the masses and the custom of smoking took root. I see.

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