Botefuri (棒手売)

Botefuri meant selling goods carried on a pole
It has changed its meaning to merchants running such a business.

This style of business is common in peddlers who make the rounds of a relatively small area. Containers such as wooden buckets and/or boxes are carried at both ends of a pole.

No street stalls of soba (noodles made from buckwheat) used a trailer towed by bicycle till the Edo period, and street venders made a round carrying a pole with boxes at both ends equipped with andon (a paper-covered lamp stand) as lighting and a space for dishes and foodstuffs.. When asked by a customer, Soba vendors took the pole off their shoulders, and then, put soba in a bowl and poured broth in it and handed it to a customer with chopsticks, and customers ate standing.

Other than soba, vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish such as asari and shijimi, and such foodstuffs as tofu were sold. Goldfish and such confectionaries as candies were also sold in a similar manner, and in the Meiji era, milk in a wooden bucket was sold by measure by pouring milk with a ladle into a saucepan or a bowl of the customer.

However, since the amount of goods which could be carried at a time and the area a vendor could cover were limited, the number of those vendors decreased through Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras, and now, it is almost impossible to find those vendors. In Asia, however, there is still a lot of merchants who sell goods in such manner.

Especially in areas of bad traffic conditions due to unpaved roads, hand trucks (such as large carts and trailers towed by bicycle) and bicycles are not easy to use for carrying things. In that fashion, however, more goods can be carried by using the pole than by holding things in arms or carrying on the back, because the center of the gravity falls on the position (a shoulder) which is almost vertical to feet with a backbone as an axis.

[Original Japanese]