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New type of Tokyo salon offers to unplug ears

by Hiroko Komori

Kyodo News

A new type of salon is emerging to provide an unusual aesthetic service.

Shops that specialize in cleaning people’s ears and massaging them are popping up around Tokyo.

The concept behind the new establishments is to give people the pleasant feeling some had as children when they would rest their heads on their mothers’ laps and have their ears cleaned.

Akiko Inaba manages Mimi Kurin, or Ear Cleaning, at the west exit of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.

Staff use an ear-pick equipped with a tiny camera to show the insides of clients’ ears. Inaba said she gets a good reaction with the device because people can see the wax buildup in their ears on the monitor.

Her salon, which opened in December, charges 500 yen for five minutes of ear cleaning; 1,000 yen for 10 minutes, and includes a massage; and 2,000 yen for the deluxe 20-minute service.

However, if a customer has an ear inflammation, Inaba recommends seeing a doctor.

Seventy percent of the customers are men, many of whom are in their 30s, and the service has been so successful that a second store will open in Yokohama this month.

Natsuhiko Takano of the business department of Hiroshima-based Aska Co., which owns the store, said his firm is now thinking about supplying ear-cleaning staff to nursing homes.

Resplendir in Tokyo’s Minami Aoyama district also offers ear cleaning and massage. A 70-minute session costs 8,400 yen.

Manager Mitsuko Takahashi worked for more than 20 years at a barbershop in a Shinjuku hotel, cleaning people’s ears.

Many women have told her they want to learn how to remove earwax to please men, she said, adding she was thinking of starting classes to teach women ear cleaning and massage as part of their bridal training.

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