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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 Honorable Duck Butt of Sugamo or the Big Red Underwear store the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map to Koshinzuka Street are 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!

“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mystery series

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

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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

  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?

    • 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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