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Akihabara morphing into a Sextoys 'R' Us

40 Comments

Shops hawking sex toys, inflatable dolls and such SM goods as whips and dominatrix costumes, are what you'd typically expect to find in raunchy drinking areas like Kabukicho.

But increasingly, reports Sapio (Sept 29), such outlets have been springing up in a two-block area on the west side of Chuo Dori, the main thoroughfare bisecting Akihabara, thereby turning what used to be an district for retailers of transformers, soldering irons and variable capacitors into a colorful bazaar of merchandise catering to carnality.

Dokkyo University economics professor Takuro Morinaga visits "Love Merci," which opened in June 2004. Just beside the JR Sobu Line's elevated tracks and fronting Chuo Dori avenue, the shop consists of a basement -- or perhaps should we call it a dungeon -- stocked with SM paraphernalia, and four floors above ground, all selling sex- and fetish-related goods.

Morinaga comments, "With the ongoing improvement in these kinds of devices, I suppose the more males find communicating with females to be troublesome, the greater demand such items will enjoy."

The shop's second floor displays a variety of sex aids and lotions for females. While Morinaga tours the premises, he notices a steady stream of female visitors.

The next stop is SUNSHOP II, a specialty purveyor of SM goods. Its interior is festooned with photos of women in a variety of poses, artfully hogtied by a bondage master. On its shelves can be found handcuffs, ankle chains, ropes, whips and a variety of humiliation goods. The proprietor tells SAPIO average daily sales are about 200,000 yen, of which 80,000 yen is pre-tax profit.

Morinaga then drops in on Akihabara NeX, which opened last July. Its ground floor displays mostly adult comics. Upstairs, merchandise displays are accompanied by explanatory tags in English and Chinese. The shop employs Mandarin and Korean speaking staff to assist foreign customers.

Readers are next guided to pioneering shop "m's Akihabara," which opened in September 2001. The company also operates branches in Ikebukuro and Tachikawa City. The fifth floor includes a fitting room where customers can try on costumes, and those willing to pose for Polaroid photos in the outfits receive a 20 to 30% discount.

The past several years have seen the successive closures of the district's used computer and electronic component shops, and in their place more and more stores selling adult goods and pornographic DVDs are springing up. Of course, this phenomenon is by no means limited to Akihabara, but reflects a greater openness in attitudes toward sex in general. How else, Morinaga asks, can you explain the people who openly shop for such goodies in broad daylight?

"In past times, Japan was a 'marriage-oriented' society, where one only got to have sex by first getting married," Morinaga observes. "But the current percentage of males in their early 30s who are still single has risen to 49%. One of the reasons for this increase may be that now men can obtain sexual pleasure without marriage. So this demographic has been enabled by the evolution and increased sales of these adult goods."

"Yes," he concedes, "we may very well be on the road to national decline. But this is the reality, and it might actually develop into one of Japan's strengths. This country boasts the capability to come up with all sorts of products, such as machines that emulate complex movements, or dolls with skin having the tactile sensation of real humans.

"Perhaps in the near future, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) might even consider designating adult goods as products for strategic growth," Morinaga chuckles.

SAPIO's article notes the total annual market for such goods is estimated to reach 1 trillion yen.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

40 Comments
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Mittsu.

You need to understand the history of Akihabara.

It always been a place to get "black market" electronics and cheap appliances.

Prior to 2000 goverment decided on a plan to revamp the area as the new "model" IT centre. Same time many of the shops were owned by older people and were close to falling sales. So a total revamp was called for.

So as shops closed leases were only available on short-term 3~5yrs which suited the Anime and Pink Industry.

Add to that around 1998+ shops like T-Zone, opened big stores in other areas that offered appliances, PC, etc that were cheaper than Akihabara.

So fewer people went to akihabara to buy as the trip was not worth it. Anime was well fitted there as some big companies were head-quartered there.

So akihabara becam a centre for Anime and Pink goods and also thus became a draw of overseas visitors.

By 2005 people went to Akihabara to meet maids, by anime goods, etc and was a major tourist destination.

But the goverment plan proceeded, Tsukuba express ended there, revamps of buildings and sites progressed(Yodobashi Camera), etc.

Foreigners added to increased crimes as they had lots of cash, Otaku became a nuisance and the killing didn't help matters either.

Right now the TRUE Otaku went back to the old established places or revived old places like Shibuya, etc. So what is left is mostly the pink industry.

Now add that the Tsukuba Express brings in a lot of families and you got sex-shops right outside the station, etc.

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So the opening dates of these places are 2001 and 2004 (atleast the ones listed in the article) and it is only now news?????

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OK Professor Morinaga you and the other 49% of single Japanese men play with you skin sensitive dolls, I'll be playing with the abundance of beautiful Japanese women you don't have nuggets to communicate with. In a recent poll I read somewhere it was discovered that Japanese women are among the most desirable in the world and Japanese men ranked at the very bottom. Hmmm... wonder why.

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To each their own, in the States these sort of places are usually on highways out of town but they certainly exist everywhere.

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The people supposedly living near Akiba and overly greedy businessmen brought all this about.

When Akiba started failing after the bubble bust the "otakus" came to the rescue bringing some costplay and a lot of buying power ( remember most otaku are also well into tech and computers), suddenly the value of things went up and then the supposed residents ( I can't see who they are or where they live) along with the businessmen and politicians decided they wanted the "otakus" gone and they were going to make Akiba "the news business district.

The police were ordered to crack down on the cosplay and started harasing anyone who looked to "Otaku" this lead to a lose of business to many of the computer part places as well as any place catering to "otaku".

This achieved the first goal of these people getting rid of many so-called undesirable businesses, unfortunately no-one was prepared to move their business offices there and the "great business district" never took flight so now it is rent that is needed so they now rent to what I am sure many of the "resident" in the area would view as a lot less desirable then the "Otaku" culture they chased away.

I for one miss the street shows by the Oyaku on Sundays!

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Judderman said: but i also think

That is your trouble right there. You need to start observing more, and thinking less

thought this was just a friendly bit of banter on this site..obviously wrong..no need to get so upset and take it personally.

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At the beginning of a relationship, sex toys should not be whipped out but best introduced slowly.

To be honest, if I were a woman and a man I was first dating pulled out a sex toy, my first thought would be "I wonder where that's been?".

Buying and using various toys as a couple can be a lot of fun, but they're the one thing I don't look for at recycle shops.

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Im with Dolphingirl (although not literally! easy boys!) and if a guy whipped out a sex toy I wouldnt think so much "poor performer" as "great imagination, thoughtful and considerate towards me, confident and in touch with himself (no pun intended)" - all good!

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I once bought a toy because I was too much for her, and she needed to work her way up. But that was her individual problem, and nothing to do with me really

MistWizard -- thanks for the belly laugh. Of course it has something to do with you -- really. Maybe you were "too much" simply because all you could think of doing was jamming yourself in and pounding away like some drunken sailor. A little self-control on your part, and she probably could have "worked her way up" without having to resort to a toy.

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Will do. Thanks Zenny. I am closer to Nerima end of Ikebukuro. Sounds like we are in the same part of this city.So many social trends that normally you would not find in books can be seen at these locations.

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Jkanda.

You need to visit one. Some locations Koenji, Kichijoji(2 Shops + 1 Diner), Shimokitazawa(another Diner there too). PM me on the forum and I can give Directions.

Sells itself as an exciting bookstore(books making up a small percentage). ;)

Yeah, pretty much similar customer group to Don Quixote. Got 1 5min by Bicycle from Ap.

Said that Akihabara is more Male orientated, Ikebukuro seems to attract the ladies more.

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This is great, its a 10 minute bike ride from my place. Handy when I need some gaijin-sized protection.

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Zenny have not been to Village Vanguard. I drop in with friends at Don Quixote when I am overworked and need to have that wonderful tea from Freshness burger. And then I see all the funny stuff and both men and women alike shop at odd hours. Quite a lot of kids too. Seen a few times, how the police were checking cars for drugs I think.

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I am not so sure that mostly men frequent those shops.

Many ladies like to have a "Companion Toy" at times, like when hubby is stuck at the office, etc. Never mind the more explicit lingerie, etc.

Back home at train-stations they sell "Travel Companions" for ladies in Vending machines, Small and compact ones.

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Morinaga comments, “With the ongoing improvement in these kinds of devices, I suppose the more males find communicating with females to be troublesome, the greater demand such items will enjoy.”

So we have an economics professor commenting on social trends as a supposed expert. Purportedly these trends are segregating men and women, however last time I looked things such as dominatrix costumes, BDSM "toys" such as whips etc. normally require more than one participant.

As far as his comment “In past times, Japan was a ‘marriage-oriented’ society, where one only got to have sex by first getting married,”:

In other words Japanese men have finally learned that you don't need to buy an airline to get free peanuts.

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"I suppose the more males find communicating with females to be troublesome, the greater demand such items will enjoy" This quote doesn't make any sense at all. What does being unable to communicate have to do with men buying SM tools and vibrators? Sounds like the quote was taken out of context and talking about something entirely different.

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Judderman said: but i also think

That is your trouble right there. You need to start observing more, and thinking less. You cannot just sit back and imagine the truth about this. And its guys that try that that cringe about their performance. I think most guys know they are not Superman, and a toy can be fun to watch, not just feel.

I once bought a toy because I was too much for her, and she needed to work her way up. But that was her individual problem, and nothing to do with me really.

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Jkanda.

Ditto for Village Vanguard(love that store). They have less "risque" stuff now than they had 10+yrs ago but still a lot there and some even in the kitchen utilities section.

Granted most of it is Gimmicky stuff like Gundam Condoms, etc in short designed to get a laugh.

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In Don Quixote, you can see all sorts of wierd stuff, displayed even on areas where kids can touch and play around with. I saw the young and the old men squeezing female body part toys that were displayed. They were not far away from the plastic Edamame that makes a sound when pressed.

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If you ask me, Japanese men are having more sex with themselves because they are too busy, too tired or can't be bothered to seek out a partner. From what I know, Japanese women are not really into vibrators...

If a man whipped out a sex toy, I would say 'yippee!!''

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This BDSM trend in Akiba is far more respectable than the recent Otaku dominance in this town.

I was ashamed when anime highschool girl effigies replaced AMD & Intel on those large billboards, as should all dignified Japanese ought to be. But if an image of a dominatrix would replace all that googly eyed 2D bullcrap I'd be a happier man knowing that this nation's males are socially competent enough to engage in such relationships with real women.

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If you are investing too much time with your inflatable friend,maybe you just need to buy a good quality foot pump,they blow up so much quicker!

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@mistwizard

Maybe j-guys are different here in that maybe they are thinking more about giving the woman better pleasure during sex by buying sex toys but i also think that alot of other guys would see it as a poor reflection on their performance in bed to have to go buy a sex toy..might lead to a few bruised egos and feelings of inadequacy. if you went and bought a sex toy and whipped it out next time you and your girlfriend/wife were getting down to it,what do you would she would say?

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So my relationship with my blow up sheep is abnormal? Thankk God for Akihabra

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"I do fear that more Japanese men are starting to resort to high-tech sex toys, internet, comics and whatever to satisfy their sexual needs rather than have sex, and possibly a relationship, with a real live women."

Time to stop fearing Dolphingirl. It has been this way for a long time. Before the internet there were slow modem BBS services and video. I would say that nothing has really changed regarding sexuality in Japan since about 1973. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that most of Japanese sexuality is institutionalized. It is all generally messed up, and it has been that way for a long time. It creates these bizarre niches that we keep hearing about: Gropers, panty-freaks, lolita con, etc. But it also protects roles of OL and hostess clubs and even geisha. There is nothings really "normal" about any of it, but it abides.

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Can a guy find a meaningful relationship w/ an "inflatable doll"?

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Judderman, you have never been in a sex toy shop in Japan, have you?

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Japan was a ‘marriage-oriented’ society, where one only got to have sex by first getting married

When on earth was that? 5000 years ago?

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@mistward

rubbish!most people who go into a sex shop will be self concious enough going in to buy something for themselves.Can you really imagine guys out there walking up to the counter with a big dildo in hand? oh this..this is for my girlfriend!I really dont think so. While women may spend time shopping and watching dramas im thinking its you who may be watching the porn having come out with that comment!

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Judderman said: i think it works both ways

I don't. The amount of yen invested by females compared to males is tiny. I would wager that most vibrators are bought by men and used by men on women rather than women buying them for themselves or using them alone.

Women spend too much on make-up and clothes to buy sex toys. And they spend too much time watching dramas to watch porn.

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one can blend in as a foreigner there without drawing the stares you would elsewhere

That's one thing I miss about traveling around in Japan

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i think it works both ways..some women buy vibrators just the same as men buy copies of female body parts although the full blow up dolls are pretty creepy.every city has a particular area which might be considered a little seedy depending on whats being sold.

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dolphingirl, I think what he means is that with many of these things you don't need a woman at all, ie. dolls or just copies of female body parts, as well as videos.

I don't mind the upsurge of such things persee, but the upsurge in their poplularity is a problem. Men are generally born poor communicators and Japanese men are not getting the training they need to overcome natural male difficulties. The result is a poor sex life and that is not good for anything but the solo sex toy business.

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dolphingirl: It's the new "Love,Japanese Style". The guy and gal just watch each other...

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I've been going through the 'habs at least twice a month for 25 years now and haven't really noticed any decline in moral standards there, pretty much business as usual despite whatever shops are there. Just a lot of nerds and unattractive 'maids' handing out flyers. It actually has a bit of a continental air what with the tourists and whatnot, one can blend in as a foreigner there without drawing the stares you would elsewhere. Long live the 'habs !

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Sounds great! You can do all your electronic-device, sex-device and electronic-sex-device shopping all in one place!!

'With the ongoing improvement in these kinds of devices, I suppose the more males find communicating with females to be troublesome, the greater demand such items will enjoy.”'--Not exactly sure what is meant by this statement. Does he mean men who can't communicate with women buy toys so they can masturbate and avoid sexual relations with women? Or does he mean that if men buy such toys they don't have to communicate with the woman during sex?

I do fear that more Japanese men are starting to resort to high-tech sex toys, internet, comics and whatever to satisfy their sexual needs rather than have sex, and possibly a relationship, with a real live women.

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If you want to catch fish, you have to cast your nets where the fish are.

Is anyone surprised by this? Costume clubs have been there for years.

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Akihabara is not as glorious as it use to be back in the 80`s. Now it is looks like a run down city with a whole lot of crap put into one small area. So very sad.

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This happened at the same time when Akiba turned into an Otaku centre, as when the revamp was announced many business didn't renew their leases.

Both Otaku Shops and Pink Industries prefer shorter length rental leases.

Decline of Akiba as a Electronic center also started when T-Zone, Bic-Camera, etc started open large shops across Tokyo.

Personally I like many don't find Akiba a nice place anymore to hang out or take the Family, it is just a Tourist Trap these days.

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Too much competition among electronics stores and lower profit margins. Something has to fill the empty retail space. As the saying goes "sex sells" and it never goes out of style.

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