Japan has a plethora of products that are weird even by the standards of many Japanese, like these big booty mouse pads Sir Mix-a-Lot would approve of, cosplay outfits for pets, or photo books dedicated to male nipples. But perhaps some of the country’s most unique products to spend your cash on are just everyday items you can find in most Japanese homes.

Our Japanese site was curious to find out if foreigners could identify some of these “strange” household staples, so they sent a reporter to interview people from different countries on the streets of Tokyo to see what they had to say.

For those of you reading, feel free to play along! Do you know what these three items are used for?


If you’re still scratching your head trying to come up with an answer, we assure you you’re not alone! Almost everyone we interviewed needed a few hints before they could correctly identify each item.

▼ “A back scratcher…?”


While it might be able to get to those hard to reach places when you’re in a pinch, it’s actually a called a futontataki, and is used for beating the dust out of your futon. A couple of our interviewees came close by suggesting it was a paddle to use on naughty kids or to spank your significant other with (if you’re into that). If you’re living in Japan and you hear a thwacking sound from the veranda next door, it’s probably from this. Some of those old ladies can really swing it.

▼ “Can I turn it? It’s not herbs, right?”


It’d be pretty cool of this were a miniature grinder, but more than likely directly consuming any of the contents that come out of this handy device would make you sick. That’s because it’s actually a water purifier, or jousuiki, that many people in Japan attach to their kitchen faucet to improve the taste of their tap water.

▼ “It’s a fake dandelion!”


Although the white puff at the end of the stick is incredibly soft, it’s not really all that functional, so it’s highly unlikely your wishes will come true with one of these. This one is called a mimikaki, and is used for scraping out earwax. Japan also has cotton swabs to do the job, but they’re not as popular as ear picks like the one shown. One theory is that Japanese and other Asian people in general have crustier earwax, while Westerners generally have the wetter, stickier kind. And if that doesn’t sound gross enough, according to some studies the gene for moister earwax also causes your armpits to sweat more, giving way to more stinky, odor-causing bacteria.

So, how did you do? If you’ve never lived in Japan before and you were able to correctly guess most of them, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

For anyone wanting to give them a go in their own home, all three can be found at almost any 100-yen store. Don’t forget to stock up for an early start on Halloween while you’re at it!

Top image: RocketNews24
Insert images: RocketNews24,, Tanaka Toshikazu Store, Hokkaido Ijyuu Blog (edited by RocketNews24)
[ Read in Japanese ]