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Edo Period

Incense Stick Clock

A timer to manage the duration of a lesson in a temple school or a geisha's service, based on the number of incense sticks burned. The time taken to burn through a single stick varied little, so the wages were calculated based on the number of sticks burned while engaged in service.

Name Incense Stick Clock
Time/Period Edo Period
Country Japan
Additional information The term Senkodai (fee for incense sticks) came to mean a tip. The price of one incense stick at the time was 100 hiki, or about 20,000 yen in today's value. If a geisha could serve an ozashiki party by herself for as long as it took to burn one incense stick (about 30 minutes), her competence was rated as near perfect. At that level of professionalism, she was said to have “gotten on her feet” ("ippon-dachi suru”).