Waxing Poetic About Ear Cleaning

Posted by kathy.ko & filed under Uncategorized.

Esther Frid holds "El Atardecer de la Vida," a book she wrote about the stories of seven senior Latin American women living in Canada

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How do you clean your earwax? The most common way for North Americans to remove excess wax build-up in one’s ear is by using Q-tips. Some doctors may recommend using water to flush out wax or earwax removal drops. But you may be surprised to discover that an alternative method to remove this yellowy-orange substance is part of a stress-relieving service. In fact, the business of cleaning ears in Japan is steadily increasing.

In Tokyo, ear-cleaning is practiced in parlours where clients are greeted by women dressed in kimonos. The workers chat with clients over tea at the beginning of each session. Then, the client places his or her head on an ear cleaner’s lap as ear wax is removed using a tool called a “mamikaki”. As well, the ear cleaner may massage the client’s ears, shoulders and head during the session. Once the process is finished, they again drink some more tea together. Each session is typically about 30 minutes long and costs $32 USD.

While many view these spa-like parlours as being luxurious and soothing, others would say otherwise. They deem ear cleaning parlours as places where intimate acts take place that should instead be performed only by one’s spouse. Thus, wives are none too pleased upon discovery of their husbands’ visits at these places.

In South Korea, ear cleaning is a common practice that mothers do for their children and is usually considered a necessary hygienic ritual. Many households have their own set of ear cleaning tools that are used to clean out wax believed to be caused by humid weather and heavy air pollution in Korea. As some mothers may not have received proper ear-cleaning training, their children may experience physical discomfort during cleanses.



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