Some Asian menstrual products:
"Origami" tampon: Anshin (Japan,
1977) Tampons, box, directions. Origami applicator. (Tambrands gift, 1997) It's the same as Ortex
Gold and Cameo tampons.
Cellopon (Japan, 1968) Box, instructions, tampons.
No applicator. With a discussion of the mutual influence
of European and Japanese art & an example
from Van Gogh.
Elldy (Japan) tampon with finger
cots, box - ad in Junie magazine (October
Shampon Young stick tampon (Japan, 1977)
Japanese pads and belts,
early 20th century: instructions for making
the so-called uma (pony or horse, because it
resembled in function the device on horses to catch feces).
Ads for Japanese commercial
menstrual belts from the early 20th century with
a comparison with the English source of the drawing: Aubrey Beardsley, England's
best artist (just my opinion).
Early 20th century ads
for Japanese menstrual belts, pads & underpants with some translation.
Thai magazine ad, date?
Chinese pad and belt (2000)
Chinese pad, Anerle
Chinese panty pad, Huitlao
Washable menstrual pads for women in Almora,
Uttar Pradesh state, India, giving them
more freedom (1999).
Teaching girls in rural southern Rajasthan about
puberty, menstruation and how to make washable menstrual pads.
More recent information about menstrual
management in India with an article critical of this
Some tampon curiosities: L & F [Lehn &
Fink] Improved Tampons (U.S.A., 1930s-1940s?) Box,
instructions, some tampons. From the company that made Lysol.
- Medical tampons mentioned in newspapers, U.S.A.,
1894-1921 - o.b. folder, Germany, early 1950s
(tells what o.b. means!)
MUSEUM OF MENSTRUATION AND WOMEN'S HEALTH
Emil menstrual tampons, Japan, 1974
Emil tampon looks very much like the Tampax
of the time: cardboard tubes & cotton plug (the absorbing part), just
like the near contemporary British St Michael tampon.
All three avoided plastic delivery tubes and super-absorbent
material unlike the ill-starred Rely that appeared
just a few years later.
But EMIL - sounds very un-Japanese to me
and male. This could be the Japanese version
of a Western tampon.
The Japanese have developed or marketed interesting tampons, including
one with cots to protect the fingers.
My knowledge of the Japanese language is primitive but I've tried to
point out some interesting aspects of Emil. But read some Japanese
words and euphemisms associated with menstruation.
Tampon directory. Related
products in the column at left.
I thank the former Tambrands, once maker of Tampax
tampons, for donating this box!
Below: Someone at Tambrands,
which donated the box, annotated and numbered the
sides. The numbers might have linked to a translation or to an explanation.
My translation of the top three lines
(no, I didn't cheat by looking at the box at right - really!):
Internal--use menstrual product [American
tampons have said this since the beginning - and
The characters in the little green box,
third row from the top, are a phonetic rendition of "mini"
in the characters Japanese uses for foreign words (katakana), not a translation
of the meaning of the English word (see box at right). For example, the
Japanese could have placed the Japanese character for small instead. It's
possible Japanese buyers would have known what mini meant.
The large brown characters in the second
line are distorted versions of the katakana characters that spell Emil,
thus attesting to the foreignness of that word. Which strengthens the argument
for a European originator. And the katakana phonetic
version of tampon suggests that the Japanese have no native word
for tampon and possibly, historically, didn't use them.
Read more about the woman and her hair
at the bottom of this page.
of course, is an added-value euphemism for "menstrual,"
added value in the sense that it tells buyers that it's clean as well as
for menstruation. That's long been the usage in America, the land of prudery.
"Pieces," as in "10
pieces," probably demonstrates the Japanese use of counters,
words like head of cattle
in English; Americans don't usually say "ten cattle." Japanese
uses many more different such words and much more often than English and
they form one of the many difficulties of the language. It might mean that
a Japanese translated the text into English. Germans would also say piece(s),
Stück - zehn Stück.
So, you ask, what do the two characters right after the "10"
on side 1 (at left) exactly mean? Phonetically, they could be ko-iri
or something similar; the backwards C sounds like KO (it's katakana and
means nothing in itself) and the second character could sound like iri -
it means "put in" - aha! My list of Japanese counters lacks this
one - maybe it's specific for tampons! - as does my huge Japanese dictionary.
"Put-in things" might be a good guess.
I hope I didn't waste your evening with this.
Below: Side 4, the second box below, bears
notations in a different hand than those on
side 1, above, and an earlier date - assuming that it means March 5, not
May 3 as it would
in the sane system used in most of the world - sorry, fellow Americans.
handwriting below resembles a non-American script
- German, for example.
So it might stem from a Japanese.
Below, left &
right: the ends.
Below: Is she having a bad
hair day? (And it does remind me of a shampoo label.)
The design seems typical of the 70s: colorful, intricate, twisted - compare
Peter Max's posters.
However, those spiky things on the outside
- brambles? snakes à la Medusa? - spook me.
But the larger question is: Why use a woman with blonde
non-Japanese eyes? Japanese women seem to greatly prefer pads
over tampons (Americans do too but not by as much) and the design
could identify this as a Western product. The manufacturer could
have also been Western as with Anshin tampons.
Japanese use Western language and characteristics to add pizzazz.
See another Western image, this one based on a famous
on a Japanese menstrual product.
NEXT | instructions: overview
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4 - the tampon
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