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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December 2004, 13:58 GMT
Japanese men lap up new comfort
A sales clerk introduces 'Hizamakura", or lap pillow, at Hakuhinkan toy shop in Tokyo, 13 December 2004
Three thousand laps have been sold so far
Japanese men without a shoulder to cry on this Christmas are being offered a woman's lap - made out of foam - to rest on instead.

The "lap pillow", shaped like the bottom half of a kneeling woman, is selling for about 9,429 yen ($90), the French news agency AFP reported.

"Single men find this soothing," said Mitsuo Takahashi of the manufacturer Trane KK.

He told AFP that the Hizamakura, or lap pillow, fulfilled a primal need.

"From the time people were kids, people have laid their heads on their mothers' laps to get their ears cleaned," he said. "This is made to be quite close to the real thing."

But they are also reported to be proving popular as joke gifts at office parties.

So far the company has sold about 3,000 laps, Mr Takahashi said.

The Hizamakura is similar to a product, shaped like a man's torso with one sturdy arm, which has been on sale since last December.

That product, the Boyfriend's Arm Pillow, was made by Japanese company Kameo, and is being targeted at Japanese single women.

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