What’s Long & Skinny And Not What You Think It Is?


Hey, I was visiting the Togenuki Jizo and I got you a present.

Wow, thanks. What is it?


Oh no. On second thought, I don’t want it. It’s something weird, I just know it.

It’s not weird! I swear, after you try it, you won’t be able to live without it.

What’s this writing on the end? It says “Harada’s Utricularia bifida species of bladderwort.” 

What? Give me that. You idiot, you’ve been overstudying your kanji again. That’s the most obscure reading ever. It says “Harada’s Ear Pick.”

Ear pick? You mean you use it to…ewww, gross!

You won’t say that after you try it. In fact, you’re going to beg me to tell you where I bought it, so you can buy them as presents for everyone you know back home.  Go on, give it a try.

Well, okay, I’ll be right back…

…So, what did you think?

Where can I buy more?

At the temple where people come to ask the Togenuki Jizo to cure their ailments, this artisan sets up shop, carving bamboo ear cleaners. After he shapes each one, he hardens it on the little barbeque behind him. The ear cleaners come in various shapes and sizes, and are made to order. It takes about forty minutes, and costs around ¥2000.

If you want to visit the ear pick carver or see other delights such as the Big Red Underwear store the next time you’re in Tokyo, visit the Koshinzuka Street page on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for
Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

5 thoughts on “What’s Long & Skinny And Not What You Think It Is?

  1. Bet it works better than the earpiece of my… uh, one’s, glasses frame.

    Does one use this at home, or out in public?

    1. Definitely not out in public! But ear cleaners are a serious category of products in Japan – you can find a variety of them in pharmacies and the health sections of places like Tokyu Hands. I checked with Japanese friends, though, and they all say that the mass-produced plastic ones just aren’t as good as these hand-carved bamboo models!

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