I’m a sucker for stylish ear protection.

Although I don’t mind all the buzzing and honking of the big city, there are times when it gets to be too much and I just want to shut it all out. That’s why a pair of earplugs can be a lifesaver for some splendid isolation.

But they tend to be boring affairs, available in monotone foam or silicon, so wouldn’t it be nice to add a little pizzazz to peace and quiet? Of course it would, so next time you reach for something to stick in your ear, make it an octopus tentacle.

Octopus Earplugs (Tako no Mimisen) are coming to capsule toy machines on 19 January and will be available in six types: raw octopus, boiled octopus, a small and round deep sea octopus known as a mendako, blue ringed octopus, squid arm, and an extra long squid tentacle measuring 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) in length.

For squid laypeople, a squid has two retracting appendages which can snag prey at a distance and bring it into the range of its remaining eight arms to finish the job. These two long parts are the true “tentacles” of a squid with the other limbs technically called “arms.” In fact, an octopus technically has “arms” rather than “tentacles” as well, but let’s not get too bogged down in cephalopod semantics.

▼ Some great shots of squid tentacles and arms working together

These earplugs are the creation of Genki Hirano, a glassmaker in Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture. The original Octopus Earplugs were elegantly made of glass and became a viral sensation earlier this year. However, due to the independent nature of their production sale has been limited to the Iso Market Fest, a two-day cultural festival in Chiyoda, Tokyo last May. A second run was sold last autumn on the Iso Market Fest online store, but even that wasn’t enough to satiate the public’s craving for octopus tentacles in their ears.

Luckily, capsule toy producer Ikimon, who also brought us the hit tuna can finger rings, have stepped in to mass-produce these earplugs in a cheaper and more durable material so that we may all enjoy them. They’re also marketing it with the slogan mimi ni tako which is a pun on the Japanese word “tako” meaning both “octopus” and “callous” in the figurative sense of getting callouses on your ears from hearing something too much and thus needing earplugs.

It’s looking to be yet another big-seller in their lineup too as online reaction to Octopus Earplugs has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I want this!”
“I thought they were earrings at first, but this is even better.”
“Huh? What is that? I want it!”
“I don’t need earplugs, so how about some earphones like this?”
“Someone make these into wireless earbuds, and make them light up!”
“I want the mendako!!! How do I get it?!”

Unfortunately those who have specific cephalopod preferences will have to face-off with lady luck at the capsule machine wheel when these come out all around Japan for 400 yen (US$3) a turn. It’s also worth noting that as capsule toys these are more of a novelty good than expertly designed sound blocking tools, so be sure to keep your expectations on that end realistic.

That being said, there’s no reason that higher quality earplugs, or even wireless earbuds like some comments hoped for, can’t be realized with this same principle. Considering the feedback they’ve gotten so far, it’d be crazy not to try.

Source: Twitter/@hirano_genki, Otaku.com
Images: Twitter/@hirano_genki
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