A customer turned his favourite ear cleaning establishment into a scene of slaughter, killing the manageress and critically wounding the girl he so lusted after with knife and hammer.
In Japanese culture 耳かき / mimikaki, “ear cleaning,” occupies a special position, with many men attaching a strong and intimate significance to resting their head in the lap of a lady (“hizamakura”, lap pillow) who then cleans their ears with an ear pick. So much so that many establishments offer this experience for a fee.
In one such establishment, based in Tokyo’s Minato ward and operated by a 78-year-old lady and employing her 21-year-old granddaughter, a 41-year-old salaryman became a regular customer.
He would visit the ear cleaning parlour each weekend, spending as much as $4,000 each month to have his ears kept clean by the young lady. Soon it became clear that his interest in resting his head in her lap was based on more than just keeping his ears clean.
This culminated in him asking the girl out. She turned him down, and soon after the shop decided it had better bar him from the premises.
However, his infatuation was undiminished, and soon his mania degenerated into stalking, with police being called out.
His obsession soon took a tragic turn, for when next police were called to the establishment they found him covered head to toe in the blood of the two ladies, admitting “I stabbed them,” having apparently savaged the old lady and her granddaughter with a knife and a hammer.
The old lady died at the scene, whilst the girl remains hospitalised in critical condition, having not regained consciousness.
The man was immediately taken into custody and charged with the attacks.
The establishment in question is in fact part of a large chain which began in Akihabara; an hour of ear cleaning in such a shop costs about ¥5,000, which includes various massages.
However, no sexual services are normally offered at such establishments, and the girls working there treat it as normal work rather than an aspect of the sex trade, though as competition intensifies some establishments are now offering sexual services.
According to one writer familiar with the trade, “There is a good deal of contact, and patrons and girls can be on first name terms. Often the men who go there are more interested in the girls than in getting their ears cleaned, but dislike hostess bars.”
Many patrons are said to be shy young men, and the girls working in the trade complain of stalking being rife.