All right…!! So this story was about these wandering medicine merchants back in Edo era, where they would go around from village to village to sell medicine. This story tells how this one 薬売りguy had a late start from one village and while crossing the mountains, it got late and he was gonna camp out, he takes his 手ぬぐい and puts it around his neck and then there’s this guy around the corner, who tells him oh no, no there’s wild beasts around here, you shouldn’t sleep out, come over my place for the night! So they go, and the other guy’s family is all there, wife, grandparents and two kiddos. Surprisingly, they all have 手ぬぐいs around their necks, and when the merchant asks he gets the reply that they’ve all got sore throats/sick, that’s why. Out guy even offers to give them throat medicine as thanks for letting him stay.
Fast forward thru the night, our guy wakes up and hears everyone talk- complaining about how bitter the medicine was. He looks through the thin opening of the sliding door and what does he see??? Heads, severed at the neck, flying around!!! He realises he’s in a pinch. There is a big chase to catch him, but thankfully our 薬売りgets away, dawn breaks, and he is safe. Story closes with him nearing a tea house at the foot of the mountain, enters, sees the store lady… and just bolts! Because she also has a 手ぬぐい around her neck!! The lady is taken aback and offended actually… she was just sick and was looking forward to his visit in order to buy some medicine….
A 手ぬぐい is a Japanese cotton towel btw！they come in many shapes and sizes nowadays, and are actually a great choice for a souvenir! So many nice designs! And they have a multitude of uses too! From wrapping your 弁当、to wrapping them around your head, and to using them for actual cleaning etc