With 1,700 yen (about $16) to blow at the Narita airport a few months ago, I headed to the Japanese equivalent of Hudson News where I bought some provisions for the flight — iced coffee in a can, dried cuttlefish snacks, lip balm, and, on an impulse, some Green Bell nail clippers (I liked the packaging).
It wasn’t until weeks later, well into flip-flop season, that I found the clippers in my carry-on and gave them a whirl on my winter-ravaged toes. I was floored. The Japanese clippers, as you’d expect from a country that’s always elevated the mundane with powerful design, have a pleasing frosted-Champagne finish and the serious weight of a small stapler. The levering system has a satisfying springiness, too, that chops with near-minimal effort; getting my Brookstone clippers to actually make that onomatopoeic clip felt like a negotiation every time. Most important, where my dull-bladed Brookstone would leave jagged edges and clippings I’d have to pull off with my fingers, the Green Bell slices through nails like a Santoku through a tomato. Makes sense, given that they were made in Seki, the city famed throughout Japan for creating Samurai swords. The blades retain their sharpness because they’re forged of twice-tempered stainless steel — each one is honed by hand (some might call it “artisanal”) before being brushed of shavings and packaged for sale.
Luckily, you don’t have to be on a layover in Tokyo to find these clippers because, naturally, they’re available on Amazon. There, you can find review after rhapsodic review — about the smoothness of the movement, how ergonomic its handle feels, or the way the blades glide through even the gnarliest toenails. (While it works on fingernails, the extra-wide tool is best suited for toes.) In general, the only complaints are about its price, which, to be fair, is a little steeper than what Americans are probably used to paying. But the cost of two Chipotle burrito bowls (without guacamole) is a small price to pay for the most precise at-home manicure you’ll ever experience.
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