Five years ago, the Japanese government deregulated ear cleaning, removing the requirement that the cleaner have a medical license. Since then a new type of business sprung up in Tokyo and other big cities: ear-cleaning parlors:
The basic service at Yamamoto Mimikaki-ten lasts 30 minutes and costs ¥2,700 (about US$32). The customer is first introduced to a kimono-clad young woman who serves him tea and makes small talk.
She then places his head on her lap and covers his face with a handkerchief.
Using a “mimikaki,” an ear pick made of bamboo, metal or plastic with a small scoop at the end, she gently and lovingly scrapes excess wax out of his ears, as well as massaging them and then tapping the shoulders, followed by more tea.
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