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In Japan, a popular souvenir is mimikaki (耳かき) - a pick for cleaning the ears. They often come in decorative packaging, and have little trinkets dangling from the handle (e.g. a tiny wooden shoe). My understanding is that people buy them to give to their relatives.

My question is: is this a serious gift, or is it supposed to be funny? And is it common to give them to friends and teachers too?

  • There's a Japanese-language article on it, so at the very least it's not a myth made up by non-Japanese people: 耳掻き – Andrew Grimm Aug 20 '16 at 9:12
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I can't say if it is a common gift to give to your teacher, at least I would not do, but mimikaki is a perfectly fine gift if it is decorative enough. There's nothing funny or shy about it, this is what it is. Cleaning ears to your loved ones is a way to express your affection in Japan and mimikaki work there like nothing else.

  • 1
    Yup. A friend of mine once received a silver mimikaki as a gift when flying JAL Business Class. – jpatokal Aug 21 '16 at 5:29
  • Just to be clear: if you give someone a mimikaki, do you expect them to use it? – z0r Aug 21 '16 at 23:30
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    @z0r of course. – Rilakkuma Aug 22 '16 at 11:49

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