29 March, 2006

asian ear cleaning

AsiaPundit has never had an ear cleaning and likely never will. However, if he were to submit to the procedure he would prefer the hygenic and high-tech services offered in Japan. Via Boing Boing, Nude Highway Driving reports on Japan’s new ear cleaning salons.:

EarcleaningI remember the first time I saw it happen in public — I was hanging out one fine day in Yoyogi Koen when I noticed a Japanese couple nearby. The girl was sitting, and her husband/boyfriend was laying down with his head in her lap. She was slightly bent over, gazing romantically at him, and I saw her arm moving in a gentle, rhythmic motion. Then I saw her lift her hand and wipe off the little stick she held.

She was cleaning his ears. I later learned all about mimikaki from an American friend who is addicted to his Japanese wife’s ability to dig wax out of his ears without pulling brain matter out in the process. It’s a Japan thing.

So I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me to see an article in The Japan Times recently about salons opening up that clean your ears (use BugMeNot if it locks out). What better way to cap off a day or work and night of drinking than to have someone jam a camera-enabled pick in your ear so you can watch your very own “house of wax” on TV? A thousand yen gets you a 10-minute ear-cleaning and a quick massage. Ten thousand yen gets you a deluxe ear cleaning and a “happy ending.” (Just kidding — though it would be a great way to drum up some business. Especially if you name the salon Love Canal.)

In China, ear cleaning is much more traditional affair. and comes at a much cheaper price. Julie Chao at SF Gate describes the process.:

ScaryearcleanerLi, 38, grew up in the countryside, but when he was about 18, his father decided he should learn a trade, so he took up hair cutting. He soon moved on to shaving and then ear cleaning. Traditionally, all three services were offered at barbershops.

He first practiced on peasants and migrant workers. Now, he charges 10 yuan (or $1.25) a pop and can make as much as $370 a month. It’s not a bad living for Sichuan province, where the average urban worker makes less than $1,000 a year.

Li uses an eight-instrument technique. First he runs a thin file along the ear lobe and outer edges of the ear canal to remove hair. Next he uses a thinner file, a flexible metal strip, to gently loosen the wax. Larger pieces of wax that come loose easily are removed with a pair of pincers. Smaller particles are scraped out by a bamboo stick with a small scoop at the end.

With the wax removed, the rest is just icing. He starts by sliding a hair- thin piece of wire into the ear canal and tapping it around. “It’s just to feel good,” he explains.

Next a thicker piece of wire with a loop at the end is also tapped around, for no good reason. Lastly, a bamboo stick with down feathers is inserted, and the tuning fork is gently snapped against the stick, causing the feathers to vibrate inside the ear canal.

(Japan photo via Kyodo, China pic via a . AsiaPundit owns one of those devices and does not recommend using it for ear cleaning.)

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by @ 4:05 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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