Partway through the story, the protagonist is speaking with a friend. And he stops mid sentence:

I broke off mid-sentence, as I studied the reflection of his back in the mirror. There was a yellow plaster just below his ear

What does the yellow plaster signify in context? My research suggests it would be used to cover some sort of abscess or cyst, but is it associated with a specific disease during the time the story was published (early 20th century Japan)?

  • Maybe the friend just cut himself shaving?
    – verbose
    Commented May 3 at 23:25
  • @verbose Surprisingly, that's a legitimate possibility! Adhesive plasters were invented in 1921 moma.org/collection/works/…. and the story was published in 1927. Plausibly J&J had managed to start selling plasters in Japan by that date Commented May 5 at 14:41
  • 1
    I wonder if it is the color, yellow, that is important, rather than it being a plaster. Yellow seems to figure as denoting bad luck in the story - the yellow taxi-cabs, the yellow-covered books etc. Commented May 6 at 15:23
  • 1
    plaster is a BrE term for what AmE speakers call a band aid.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 7 at 14:03


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