Today we are launching our new addition to the summer prints collection: Katori Buta Print.
蚊取り豚 (katori buta), literally translates as ‘mosquitto-removing pig’, is a small ceramic pig that is brought out in the summer to ward off bugs, mosquitoes particularly. Inside burns a green spiral incense, called 蚊取り線香 (katori senkou, ‘mosquito-killing incense’), derived from the 除虫菊 (jyochuugiku) flower. In small doses it repels bugs, but in large, kills them. The incense and the burner are a staple in many Japanese homes, and are customarily associated with the summer image in Japan.
A bit of fun facts and history about the incense itself.
Katori senkou was invented at the end of the 19th century by a trader at the time, Ueyama Eiichiro. He was the first person to import the seeds from the United States that claimed to grow flowers that could kill insects. The plant was called Tanacetum cinerariifolium, a Chrysanthemum. Ueyama gave the plant 除虫菊 (jyochuugiku, “bug-banishing chrysanthemum”) name, and began to cultivate it in Japan.
Soon Ueyama began to produce the plant’s active ingredient in incense form. However the effect would not last long. So in 1895 Ueyama’s wife, Yuki suggested to shape the incense in long spiraled sticks to create a longer-lasting effect. This classic shape, its deep green colour, and the iconic packaging with the trademark red rooster head are still kept today.
The katori buta itself is then used as a holder to keep the incense burning safely. There are other holders available on the market. But the pig is a classic favourite and is often featured in TV shows, commercials, anime and manga.
Our print features the classic white ceramic katori buta with the green burning katori senkō on the inside. Inspired by Japanese pop culture, we also added ミーンミーン (min min) writing in the top left corner of the print, setting the scene of the Japanese hot summer’s day. “Min min”, better known in Japan as ‘the sound of summer’, is the chirping sound made by the min-min-zemi [みんみんぜみ・ミンミン蝉] cicada species—one of the many species found in the trees in the heart of the summer season in Japan. Their classic almost deafening tune signifies the arrival of summer, without which the summer just isn’t summer in Japan. And with the temperatures rising up and above 35°C, it is the perfect time to leisurely sit outside alongside your katori buta as you break open a watermelon all the while taking in the warm sunlight rays and enjoying your very own outdoor summer orchestra.
Together with the 風鈴 (fuurin, windchime), うちわ (uchiwa, Japanese traditional fan), かき氷 (kakigoori, shaved ice) and すいか (suika, watermelon), 蚊取り豚 (katori buta) completes the Japanese summer ensemble.
We hope that just like the warm memories of the summer past, our Katori Buta and the Watermelon Windchime prints will keep you warm in the winter, reminding of the warmer days to come.