In Japanese culture, ear cleaning is a uniquely intimate procedure that demonstrates a huge amount of trust when someone else is allowed to introduce fairly sharp instruments into your ear canals (that’s trust in any culture). As we all know, you are completely at the mercy of the person who is cleaning your ears and, apparently, Japanese women are experts at the wax removal process. Just when we thought we knew what we were doing in Audiology clinics after many years of learning and experience, we discover that there are clinics (called “salons” in Japan) where you can simply have your wax removed for a price.
Komori (2006), who writes about these salons, reports that there are special prices for various types of services. The salon staff use an ear pick equipped with a tiny camera to show the insides of clients’ ears. One employee said she gets a good reaction with the device because people can see the wax buildup in their ears on the monitor. (Hmmmmm…..a video otoscope?). Komori adds that a number of other services can be “bundled” in or the customer can settle for a simple wax removal. For 500 Yen (a little over $4), you can get a simple wax removal, a 5 minute job. If you want to get the full treatment, then choose the 10-minute, 1000-Yen , “take your time” approach. If you want to give yourself a real trip to the Spa, then try the “top of the menu” and bundle a massage into the deal for 2000 Yen (about $16.75).
Who knows …..maybe Medicare would pay audiologists in the US of we bundled a massage into the deal?
If you have clogged ears and are up for a pricier, higher action scenario….probably the best way to go (if you are male, anyway) is to check out the Geishas, who now offer Erotic wax removal (the economy is tough all over the world!).
A Geisha, contrary to common American misperception, is never in a position of prostitution. Instead the Geisha’s job is to make her client forget his worldly cares through special ceremonies, non-romantic poetry, and other art forms. In this tradition, the newest fad in Japan is erotic ear cleaning. This trend appears to have begun in Tokyo, where there are currently more than 100 of these ear cleaning salons. They began to crop up when the Japanese economy collapsed a few years ago.
The basic premise of these salons is that the gentleman gets to lay his head in a beautiful young Geisha’s lap while she gently cleanses and massages his ears. The Geishas are generally dressed in traditional Japanese maid’s uniforms. They use a variety of tools for the actual ear cleaning, including bamboo picks, ear syringes, and flushes. They will usually also have a variety of massage oils and ointments. The sessions tend to last for about 30 minutes and cost about 270 Yen ( plus tip, of course). There is no sex involved in any form. Clients sometimes talk about their work, lives, etc. or they may simply use this brief period just to relax.
I have been searching for a CPT code for this one…….Any idea where I can find this one?
On a related subject, Genes (2006) discovered that there is special gadget that lovers in Japan use for wax removal. It is well known that East Asians have relatively dry earwax (See the HI posting of 4-14-2011). Because dry earwax is relatively easy to remove from the ear, Japanese lovers have developed a ritualistic cleaning process featuring fancy instruments. Usually made from Bamboo, the instrument is a kind of curette called a “mimikaki” (sometimes translated as “earpick”).
The person having his ears cleaned lies down with his head in the lap of the person doing the cleaning. Japanese generally consider this a pleasant feeling, like having one’s back scratched. Ear cleaning is considered an act of intimacy, often performed by a mother on a child or, among adults, by one’s lover. Komori (2006) also writes that many Japanese women learn how to remove earwax to please men, and the salons may offer classes to teach women ear cleaning and massage as part of their bridal training. (Hmmmmm…a new profit center for Audiology Clinics?)
All4Women.co.za, Erotic earcleansing: a new fad?, September 13, 2010.
Genes, N. (2006). Mimikaki: Ritualized Ear Wax Removal. Medgadget.com, August 7, 2011.
Komori, H., New type of Tokyo salon offers to unplug ears. The Japan Times, September 13, 2010.