I know what you're thinking: what did Meiji Japan call pocketwatches before they had pockets? Because you know that portable and flashy Euro-accessories saturated society before shirts had even gotten their shoes on (so to speak).

Answer: they called them sleevewatches: sodedokei 袖時計, tamotodokei 袂時計. Or, more commonly (bah!) kaichūdokei 懐中時計; kaichū refers to the area between kimono and breast, where watches and contraband can be stowed, and, by extension, a hypothetical space-of-portation (thus, a kaichūdentō is a "portable electric lamp," i.e. flashlight, even in the modern age where no-one has a literal kaichū any more).

Better yet, Tsuchida Mitsufumi 槌田満文's Meiji-Taishō no shingo/ryūkōgo 明治大正の新語・流行語 ("Neologisms and buzzwords of the Meiji-Taisho period") quotes Sakabe Kōjirō 坂部甲次郎's Tokei gogen shō 時計語源抄 ("Selections from the etymology of [the word] 'Clock'") on some period pickpocket (suri) words for pocketwatch: kinman, ginman, monaka, meaning "golden manjū," "silver manjū," and "monaka" respectively.

This was the golden age of watch-related pickpocket slang: before long, everyone would move on to wristwatches, which are much more difficult to steal.

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Leonardo Boiko:

When I was studying the kanji 懐、 I stumbled upon the word 懐炉 (“portable heater”). I think it’s supposed to be these, though my fav image-search result was this one.


Hand warmers are pretty common at my middle school (and throughout Japan and Korea where central heating is rare in schools). Pocketwatches, not so much,


I was just thinkin on this the other day cuz a kid came into the office and asked for a 懐中電灯 and a kid after that came in asking for the key to the 南京錠. Medieval words aplenty. (sorry dont know the key to make the "a" and "e" stuck together letter that Medieval and hemorrhage rightly deserve)

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