The Japanese love to clean their ears, and cleaning a child's ears is a sacred moment akin to breast-feeding.
BUT I have some terrible news for the proponents of this practice, and some weird genetic information (!!!).
First of all, Japanese ear wax is not the same as gaijin ear wax. I can hear your "WHAT?" from here - this sounds exactly like the kind of thing a Japanese person would say (like when the nurse asked my girlfriend what temperature gaijin were supposed to be), but actually it's true.
- In East Asians (and Native Americans), a dry, grey type of ear wax is the most common, whereas on the other side of the world - Europe/Africa, you'll find we have the moist orange gunk. It's something to do with ancient climates. Weird. The moist stuff is dominant, though, which means that if you have a half-Japanese baby you can be assured it has good old Western Wax.
So okay, the Japanese are right this time about being different from the rest of the world, but they are most certainly wrong about thwe need for mimisouji in the first place. Here's a tip for you curious gaijin out there: don't buy a mimikaki and definately don't stick it in your (or anyone else's) ears.
- Wax is in your ear for a reason, it's a normal secretion which is naturally removed when necessary. If you have a blockage, go to an ear doctor. Never put one of these things inside yourself or you could end up with some serious internal damage. You can't see what you're doing in there. Furthermore, scraping at the walls of your inner-ear actually causes more discharge. だめ！
- Mimikaki come in all shapes and sizes. You can get them with red LEDs inside, anime characters on the end, in horrible multi-layers dental tool fashion, and far too many other styles. Google images has more.
- The weirdest part of this whole situation is that you can pay (~3000yen) for a kimono-clad woman to rest your head gently on her lap and scrape at your ear-canals for 30-minutes. No thanks. Sounds even less fun than getting an ear-candle (which, incidentally, is totally useless and potentially harmful).
- If you're completely twisted you will probably enjoy watching this disgusting yet fascinating Japanese video of earwax removal:
- You could go even further and use one of these mimikaki with a camera on the end. We recommend you don't.
- For yet more fun, there is a(n award-winning) manga short-story entitled Yamamoto's Ear Cleaning Shop which you can read here.