Kiseru - Traditional Japanese Pipe


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[Update 3: 8/5/2011] For a NEW reliable retail seller of Kiseru pipes and Koiki Tobacco please read this.

[Update 2: 10/15/2010] After some investigation and consultation with local pipe shops, the KISERU is apparently considered a "one hitter" pipe and as such is categorized as nothing more than another possible pot pipe. None of the major pipe/tobacco retailers I spoke with wanted anything to do with such "one hitters" citing major federal and state regulations. Even the head shops on Clark/Belmont Avenue, which indeed sell one-hitter pot pipes, wanted to pursue the sale of Japanese tobacco (again, citing federal/state regulations). I will continue to pursue this, though it seems the only likely current scenario is that the Kiseru pipes will be sold by a head shop and NO Japanese tobacco will be available.

[Update 1] I have been informed that as of 9/1/2010, LSANDO no longer supports the sale of Kiseru for overseas shipping. They have removed the English-translated pages from their site. The links on this page now point to only Japanese-language pages. SaruDama intends to verify with LSANDO what their policy now is regarding oversea shipping/processing and if necessary seek out an alternative location from which readers in the U.S. might obtain Japanese kiseru and tobacco.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Surely you recognize the kiseru!!

Fans of samurai and history-based Japanese films have undoubtedly seen one of these being contemplatively smoked during discussions of either covert military strategies or flirtatious banter leading to kimono-less frolics on the tatami.

My new Kiseru arrived today from Japan thanks to the excellent service I received from Living Shop Ando, one of the only places selling these authentic pipes internationally. (I'll tell you about Ando below).

Here's (almost) everything you ever wanted to know about traditional Japanese kiseru including what Japanese tobacco you put in it and how to get your own...

some info

The term "kiseru" is said to have come (according to my SanSeido Dictionary) from the term "ksher" of the Khmer language of Cambodia. Since it is a "borrowed" word (from other cultures) "kiseru" is generally spelled using the katakana writing system. Interestingly enough, over time the kanji for "chimney" (enkan) has also taken on the (additional) pronunciation of "kiseru". (Thus a dictionary search for the term will produce both versions.)

Kiseru are almost always comprised of a tube of bamboo (or some other wood) capped by a small stem and bowl made of either silver or bronze. If you search the web for "kiseru", you will uncover many pictures of ornate Meiji and pre-Meiji kiseru pipes and accessories.

The bowl is so exceptionally small compared to Western standards that the endeavor of smoking a kiseru may seem fruitless. But please keep in mind that in Japanese culture sake is also imbibed from very tiny cups -- and that has hardly stopped them (or me) from getting a buzz on.

my story

As far as getting my hands on one of these: I simply could not find an online store in the USA selling kiseru (and I am familiar with the major pipe/tobacco sites here). And the ONLY (trustworthy) Japanese site I could find which (a) sold kiseru online and (b) would ship abroad, is:

Living Shop Ando (www.lsando.com) owned and operated by Mr. Takamitsu Ando.

Before ordering from the site I called Living Shop Ando and found that Ando-san could speak English and was very helpful. The quality of service and information I have received from Mr. Ando has been impeccable. Thus I have absolutely no reservation recommending him to you in the event you wish to purchase one of these pipes. (And I doubt you could buy a new one elsewhere.)

Just a heads up: one Yen (¥) now roughly corresponds to a US penny (¢) -- given the credit card service and all that. Thus ¥1000 will equal roughly US $10.00 (and 45,000yen equals $450.00).

Here are some detailed views of my new kiseru:

This photo doesn't quite capture it, but the sakura leaves actually shine as bronze through the silver-plated sculptured surfaces. Who said craftmanship is dead?

Here is the whole ensemble I ordered. One pipe. A pipe and tobacco case (kamasu). And Japanese tobacco for kiseru. (PS: I ordered more than this much kiseru tobacco. More details below.)

Check this tobacco out! You can see this is nothing like Western pipe or loose-leaf cigarette tobacco. It literally comes in fine hairs. This is Japanese tobacco intentionally used for kiseru pipes. As far as I know there are only two predominant brands of kiseru tobacco -- koiki and yamabuki. What you see here is the koiki brand.

Just like the pipe, the tobacco packets are small. Koiki comes in 10 gram (0.35 Ounce) boxes each costing about 320yen. Although I have not yet fully proven this theory, each 10g package seems to hold enough for 40-50 kiseru bowls.

If you are at all interested in purchasing akiseru and its tobacco, I wholly recommend you contact Living Shop Ando.

If you choose to contact LSANDO, please mention SaruDama. (I certainly don't get any "kick-back" but) I think Ando-san will be glad to learn of our rather intense japanophile community. (But please, if you mention SaruDama's name, I ask that you represent us very courteously.)

Just to tease you, here's the collection LSANDO currently offers. (Can you see mine?) Click on the pic to view www.lsando.com.

[UPDATE: I've provided LSando's newer collection of KISERU pipes HERE.]

37 Comments


Thank you sooooooooooooo much for your website and the links to the Living Shop Ando. I've wanted to find a pipe like these for EVER and couldn't find any that weren't crazy expensive. I'm going to order one today! Can't wait!!


Thank you for these links and these infos. Finally i'll get a kiseru^^


I just ordered a kiseru! *sqeels with delight*


My friend just ordered one for me. Roughly how much did it cost total for you guys?


Hey thanks guys for this website, it rocks!! i was looking around in the wrong places for these kinds of pipes. I saw Y?ko Ichihara from XXX Holic use one of these and i though they were so much better to smoke than nasty old cigarettes.


I thought that I would spend the money on an antique because I love the details that they have. But these ones are very beautiful in a very simplistic way. Thank you so much!


Just received mine Wow it's fantastic. Really glad I found your site and where to order one. It's almost as much a work of art as a pipe.


Omg omg omg thank you sooo much I have been looking everywhere for one of these. I seen Mother from Memoirs Of A Geisha use one and I fell in love thank you sooo much!!! ^_^


I grew up watching old samurai movies and every now and then I'd spy an oiran or a daimyo with a kiseru. And later on they'd appear in many manga. I always dreamed of having one and never thought I'd see the day when I would actually have one! It's a dream come true!


Thank you so much for the link, Im going to order one for my husbands birthday. Can you please tell me how long delivery takes?


Thanx,, you've been a huge help on the journey to quit smoking cigarettes. Even though I am a smoker.. now i know Im -minus- 2000
chemicals and we would all be better off smoking kiseru, compared to ridiculous Americanized population control... Thanx again for your help D


Thank you! A good friend of mine had been wanting one for a while so now I can surprise him with a not too super expensive full set!


I have been wanting one of these for years, I ordered one the next day after reading your blog. Thank you for posting the information.


hi, i have a kiseru but its in a really bad state and i was hoping to clean/fix it. does anyone know where i could do that?
--
SARUDAMA says: Unless your kiseru is an heirloom or historical piece, I doubt the cost of "fixing" it would be justified versus simply buying a new one. By that I mean: a NEW kiseru costs between $15 and $70. And as you can tell from your own, the segments do NOT unscrew, so you're talking about a "fix" which involves reconstruction.

Of course I/we don't know exactly what you mean by "bad state". But I do know that whenever "Bad State" is used to describe a particular character, particularly in a Zombie film, that dude/dudess is cooked, plain and simple. Better to pay $40 for a new pipe than risk getting infected by that zombie pipe you're so emotionally attached to.

If, after all that, you still want to clean/fix your kiseru, please consult LSando:
http://www.lsando.com/pipes/e/kiseru.htm


How do you smoke it actually? Do you just stuff a bit of tobacco inside the bowl and light it up with a match like you do with a Western pipe or do you use some other way?
--
SARUDAMA says: Stuff and light, like you said. The Japanese can sometimes be esoteric, but when it comes to smoking stuff, they're like everybody else (just smaller?).


I've spent ages trying to find a new kiseru so finding and reading your site was brilliant. Thank you so much for putting up the information and links, I've just e-mailed Ando-san and am looking forward to buying a kiseru very soon.


Just got my kiseru, an its so f**king awesome!!!! LSANDO!!!


Great post on Kiseru! I am a huge fan and have been lucky enough
to be exposed to several variations of Kiseru pipes...you cannot
beat the smoke from a Kiseru. There is something relaxing, yet
stylish, about them. They make me want to sit out on my deck in
the sun while listening to the wind blow and birds chirp. Do you
know of any stores in the United States worth checking out? How
about anymore websites?
Thanks!


nooo! the links are dead or i can't access them from the mitten state.


I can still access the links but the only addresses it will ship to
are in Japan and I'm located in the US right now. How did everyone
else order theirs?


anyone acualy read japanese cause the website no longer seem to translate in too english im very eager to order one of them but im having a hard time ordering even finding a email to interact with them please help

iyanna


Also this website sometimes has kioki, but if not, it has an Iranian pipe tobacco that is also nice. It also sells kiserus.


Hi!! Thanks so much for your excellent info!! I stumbled onto this page years ago and thus found
LSANDO and got my very first pipe. Since then I've added a couple more kiseru pipes to my
collection and have been very happy with them.

I was really hoping to buy another one from their new collection but unfortunately they've taken
down their English page. I live in Europe so we don't have the same restrictions as people in the
States, does anyone know if they will ship to Europe? Or how I could get my hands on a new
kiseru pipe?? (They've become something of an addiction!)

Thanks so much for your time and help!! Here's hoping!!


Interesting. LSAndo is also one of few places outside Sweden where you actually find a variety of Swedish snus (snuff, I think the anglosaxons call it).


Hey!
It seems that everyone is so psyched about the website and I would love to order a kiseru +tobacco but it is in japanese and i dont understand a word :S Is there supposed to be an english version or how did everybody else order their pipes? :S


"...the KISERU is apparently considered a "one hitter" pipe and as such is categorized as nothing more than another possible pot pipe."

This is unfortunate but may represent a political reality that (a) the vast majority of inhalant (not cigar) tobacco users worldwide, including US, are currently still cigarette smokers; (b) cigarettes pay huge taxes to keep politicians happy; (c) widespread acceptance of kiseru, midwakh, sebsi or any other "one hitter" for inhalant tobacco use threatens the massive profits obtained by promoting the "700-mg. every time you light up" hot burning overdose cigarette format.

Rescue on the horizon may take the form of the E-CIGARETTE which threatens-- and deserves-- to utterly destroy the genocidal cigarette profit empire, eliminating the giant funds available to cigarette companies to support prohibition against cannabis, one hitters or anything else that threatens their obligatory overdose "tradition". But I don't think the e-cigarette endangers the future of the kiseru or any device for serving a 25-mg. single toke of dry untincturized herbal material (tobacco or any species). Good luck!


Can you still buy pipes from the above site if your in the US?


2/14/11 - Have you tracked down a new source? Is it deemed illegal for some obscure reason? I bought 3 back in '73 and now would like some new ones. Thank you.


hey that is amazing but i want a traditional pipe somthing plain do u know of anything like that


I'm not a smoker, but since 6 month i need a kiseru to complete some cosplay (not a fake one, as i wanted to burn some incense in an obstructed one). I was looking for a brand new one, but you can only find old models on ebay. Where could we find a new source?


Wow!! Finally.. like yourself ive always wanted a Kiseru, could enver find anything except the ones thats way expencive and antique! i humbly thank you for all this information! and wish you much enjoyment with your own Kiseru, very beautiful indeed!


Any word on a new shop that might ship a Kiseru State-side? I've
been looking everywhere to get one, but I've had no such luck.


I was looking for one of these traditional pipes, thank you for this site!
I live in Europe, do you know if i could buy one of them?


jlist.com sometimes stocks Kiseru. You can even put cigs in them
if you chop off most of the filter and put the rest of the cig
into the small bowl.

From the decription on the site : This is a kiseru or traditional
Japanese pipe, which traditionally you would need to place smoking
tobacco on fire bowl, but is modified for this modern day to fit
any normal sized cigarette. Made out of metal tipped ends and a
sturdy wooden material, this pipe has a hollowed out center so you
can smoke your cigarettes easily.

They have a pic of the cig being snipped and put into the pipe.


I am looking online for catalog but still little confusing where are the pipes and prices? Maybe I buy it and tobacco (what the tobacco looks like?)


Thanks for this informative page! I had seen kiseru in the films of Ozu Yasujiro, and among the works of a Japanese potter I am a big fan of, Kawai Kanjiro, and didn't know what the scoop is. I don't smoke, but if I did it would be with a kiseru. I thought you might like to know, Kawai designed many kiseru for his own personal use. They are adorable. So here is some Japanese text you can past into a google image search to see Kawai's pipes: 河井寛次郎 煙管 The first 5 characters are his name, google just that if you want to see his other works.


I'm impressed!!! Really informative blog post on www.sarudama.com my friend. I just wanted to comment & say keep up the quality work.

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