Take our user survey and make your voice heard.

Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Backstreet stories: Small Kabukicho park has become a haven for hookers

33 Comments

Kabukicho, Japan's largest entertainment zone in Tokyo's Shinjuku district, has been booming of late, with Tokyu Corporation having just opened a new 48-story high-rise complex on April 14. On weekends that complex alone attracts some 35,000 visitors per day, and by May 22 had already recorded its first millionth visitor.

Writing in Shukan Shincho (July 20), journalist Kazunori Kodate is puzzled by the incongruity between Shinjuku's opulence and sleaze, as every evening, several dozen young Japanese women converge on a small park across the street from the Okubo Metropolitan Hospital.

"It's like something out of a Ridley Scott movie," he writes.

These women engage in tachimbo, a type of prostitution in which women stand on the street and solicit male passers-by.

Kodate profiles the sagas of four young females introduced under the pseudonyms "Megumi" and "Hina" (both aged 20), Runa (21) and "Sui" (19). Taking on 10 or more Johns an evening, at ¥15,000 and up per session (depending on services performed), all four young women easily clear ¥1 million a month.

Their Johns range in age from teenagers to men in their 70s.

"This 70-year-old man, while a patient at Okubo Hospital, heard about girls on the street next door," Runa, a Kansai native, relates. "After his discharge he decided to drop by for a visit. He had no trouble performing."

"Previously foreign women had been working this area, but they've been pushed out into neighboring Hyakunincho, in Okubo," a staff of Shinjuku Ward's Crisis Management section tells the magazine.

How could this be going on so close to Kabukicho's koban?

"The ward office deals with complaints from residents, but we don't have the authority to round them up," he replies. "Unless they are clearly under age, we can't even call them out. So the city office organizes civilian patrols to obtain a better grasp of the situation. We can summon the police if trouble breaks out, and of course we share information with them."

If a patrolman from the Shinjuku police station appears on the scene, any "price negotiations" promptly come to a halt. But nobody leaves the park.

"They know that they won't be arrested unless they're caught in an illegal act," a policeman is quoted as saying. "If we intercept them upon exiting a hotel, all they have to do is tell the officer, 'We're a couple,' and if the matter of monetary transaction is raised, the man need only say, 'I just gave her some money for the taxi home.'"

With the waning of the coronavirus pandemic, visitors from abroad have rebounded, and foreign tourists, encouraged by the reduced value of the Japanese yen, also come to shop. The aforementioned Hina and Runa don't take on foreigners. Their main disincentive is rumors spreading among some of the working girls that some foreigners get too rough. But that doesn't stop some of the less popular girls from taking them on.

"The typical model for girls selling sex in Kabukicho is to support club hosts," says the aforementioned Shinjuku Ward official. "But some of the others are runaways from parental abuse. They are unaware of the welfare system in place that will take them in. So one of our most pressing issues is to identify troubled girls and find ways to assist them."

Hidemori Gen is director of Nihon Kakekomidera, a Kabukicho-based NPO, established in 2002, that seeks to provide assistance to troubled women.

https://nippon-kakekomidera.jp/index.html

"Certainly some of the girls working there depend on selling spring for their livelihood," Gen tells the magazine. "Most of these girls are in debt and engage in prostitution to support club hosts. Kabukicho has some 300 host clubs, with a working population of perhaps 10 times that figure.

"On the first visit they keep the prices low, between 1,000 to 3,000, to attract the girls, but from the second visit onwards, the prices go sky high. The girls are commonly charged ¥100,000 or more for just an hour at the club. Even then, the girls want to keep coming. So they work on the street in order to pay.

"The hosts fawn on them and listen to their stories," Gen adds. "They might bombard the girls with 100 messages a day via the Line texting application. Some might go so far as to write, 'I've already got a marriage application for us. Let's submit it a year from today.'"

Last April a Kabukicho host was arrested in violation of the anti-prostitution law, for coercing a customer at his club to engage in prostitution.

In the past, host clubs tended to be patronized by women who operated sex businesses, actresses, soapland masseuses and others who could afford such places, but now it's become common to see female salaried workers and students patronizing them. It's the latter, who obviously can't afford such places, who turn to the streets," Gen is quoted as saying.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
Login to comment

"Most of these girls are in debt and engage in prostitution to support club hosts."

This makes no sense to me. There are all these men who are willing to pay to be with them. Yet, they still feel the need to run up ridiculous tabs at clubs to be with other men?

How do their brains work? Do they not see the irony? They could be pocketing all that money for themselves, and make better lives for themselves, the way their host beneficiaries do. So stupid.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

These women engage in tachimbo, a type of prostitution in which women stand on the street and solicit male passers-by.

So unique , cultural Japan with an innovation in the sex industry never done before.

"The typical model for girls selling sex in Kabukicho is to support club hosts," says the aforementioned Shinjuku Ward official.

Instead of the phantasmagorical appeal of these individuals, the girls could probably be lured away by lets say, a different and more direct modality of physical appeal?

Just saying.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

I hate the word 'Hookers' or for that matter 'Whores'......these young sex workers, women and older ones are doing this to survive in a society that has turned its back on them, and this relates to all countries not just Japan. In my country sex workers are licenced and legal and given health checks, it is way from perfect but it is a start.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

Prostitution is illegal in Japan (need a laughing face emoji here), but the police turn a blind eye if everything is kept discreet and the sleaze is confined to certain areas. A very Japanese solution.

3 ( +17 / -14 )

All four young women easily clear ¥1 million a month ... and probably don't declare any of it to the tax authorities. That's illegal as well.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Unless they are distinctly foreign, the cops won’t dare go after them. Maybe they get a discount?

It’s always funny when tv does that “follow the cops for a day” show. There is always some raid of an illegal sex ring, but it only has Chinese women working there. Meanwhile any cursory google search or just using your eyes, let’s you find any sexual service club/bar in the district your in with cops fully aware of what they are and who works there.

That group that wants to legalize, at least to the extent that woman/men in the business, this stuff to get them on the tax registers and health insurance is on to something

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Disgusting and immoral and what kind of man would be interested in this type of thing? These women need removing from the streets to help start making a healthier environment.

‘Too many perverts in this world who act on vile ways and most of them are no doubt married with children.

All those involved in this filth should hang their heads in shame and start to lead a decent and moral life.

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

prostitutes or sex workers have existed since time beginning. Legalize it. Issue licenses. They pay taxes and regular health checks.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Disgusting and immoral and what kind of man would be interested in this type of thing? These women need removing from the streets to help start making a healthier environment. 

You for one seem very interested.

It's a fine line between being opinionated and judgemental.

I say live and let live. As long as kiddies aren't involved, I believe people should do what they want. What am I like? Lol.

I'm always amazed at how people filter the world through their Euro-centric lens. They just manage to sound like missionaries from olden days, out of touch of their host culture, looking down on everything they don't understand.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

wallace

Yes, make it behind closed doors, I don’t care about their vulgar acts there. But in the street where children can see this filth, no way Pedro.

-13 ( +6 / -19 )

"Runa" and her friends could make more money if they plied their trade in Nagatacho near the Diet.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

The government needs to start a clean up in all the areas where these ‘people’ frequent to make the decent moral people not have to worry about their safety.

-19 ( +3 / -22 )

The government needs to start a clean up in all the areas where these ‘people’ frequent to make the decent moral people not have to worry about their safety.

I would prefer the Amsterdam model to be honest old boy.

You sound extreme and remind me of Pink singing one the songs of the Wall.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

"This 70-year-old man, while a patient at Okubo Hospital, heard about girls on the street next door," Runa, a Kansai native, relates. "After his discharge he decided to drop by for a visit. He had no trouble performing."

What was 70-year-old man preforming The Nutcracker suite, Op. 71 both acts?

Well you learn something new evert day.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@falseflagsteve

[...] to make the decent moral people not have to worry about their safety.

and you would define who is moral and who is not, I assume?

What kind of morality allows for enforcing your opinion on others?

10 ( +12 / -2 )

The aforementioned Hina and Runa don't take on foreigners..

So even the lowest members of society discriminates against foreigners. I guess that means foreigners are even lower than prostitutes.

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

Gee, I was thinking of taking an afternoon walk through that area when I visit in October. And since it seems the activity mentioned in the article is an evening or late night thing, I'll probably do it. As a white foreigner I doubt I'll get propositioned.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"Streetwalking" seems like the most dangerous and most unhygienic form of prostitution. I wish them well, but, no thanks.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"The hosts fawn on them and listen to their stories," Gen adds. "They might bombard the girls with 100 messages a day via the Line texting application. Some might go so far as to write, 'I've already got a marriage application for us. Let's submit it a year from today.'" I pity these women who are so starved of love that they are willing to pay 100,000 yen an hour to hear sweet nothings from some drunken bloke who probably won't even remember their name when he wakes up the next morning. It's easy to find sex in Japan; love is much more elusive.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@wallace I assume its ok for your wife or daughter if you have one to work as a part time of full time sex worker since this type of work existed since time beginning. Its perfectly ok with you if they pay their taxes and get regular health checks!! ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!! YOU ARE A TRUE SUGAR DADDY!

prostitutes or sex workers have existed since time beginning. Legalize it. Issue licenses. They pay taxes and regular health checks.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

kaimycahl

@wallace I assume its ok for your wife or daughter if you have one to work as a part time of full time sex worker since this type of work existed since time beginning. Its perfectly ok with you if they pay their taxes and get regular health checks!! ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!! YOU ARE A TRUE SUGAR DADDY!

> prostitutes or sex workers have existed since time beginning. Legalize it. Issue licenses. They pay taxes and regular health checks.

Only in very strict countries like Islam are they able to control prostitution, adultery, and sex outside of marriage because the repercussions are so severe.

Prostitution exists here in Japan even though it is against the law which to some degree drives it underground.

In countries like Holland, prostitution is legal which requires that women are over 20, have a license and monthly health checks for STDs. They work without having a pimp. That is far better for society. They also pay taxes on their income like other businesses.

Most prostitutes but not all are driven by low incomes and lack of opportunities to improve their lives. Drug addictions are another major factor.

You have made several accusations without posting a single solution to solving what is often called the world's oldest trade.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I do feel sorry for I some of these women but still find what they do to be ghastly and vile you see. Also, think about the pigs that visit them, mostly probably have partners or a wife. Seems hard to believe but it’s true.

The kind of man that cheats on his partner either by an affair or visiting prostitutes cannot be trusted. If they can cheat in their beloved they will cheat on anyone even their chums. If you know someone who behaves like this take extreme caution.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

falseflagsteveToday 12:11 am JST

I do feel sorry for I some of these women but still find what they do to be ghastly and vile you see. Also, think about the pigs that visit them, mostly probably have partners or a wife. Seems hard to believe but it’s true.

The problem is it is not just people looking to cheat on their wives. For some men it may be their only option. The large number of hikikomori may be some of them.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

kaimycahlJuly 18 09:47 pm JST

@wallace I assume its ok for your wife or daughter if you have one to work as a part time of full time sex worker since this type of work existed since time beginning. Its perfectly ok with you if they pay their taxes and get regular health checks!! ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!! YOU ARE A TRUE SUGAR DADDY!

Not everybody has your fictional happy family. Throwing them in prison for a victimless crime is better for them?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

falseflagsteveJuly 18  03:24 pm JST

Disgusting and immoral and what kind of man would be interested in this type of thing? These women need removing from the streets to help start making a healthier environment.

‘Too many perverts in this world who act on vile ways and most of them are no doubt married with children.

All those involved in this filth should hang their heads in shame and start to lead a decent and moral life.

Prostitution is immoral and illegal in most countries even totalitarian ones because those governments want to control everything they can. What kind of man would get into this thing? One who can't be faithful and true to his wife or GF, that's who. A cheat, a cad.

And with prostitution other crimes often come along with it. It cheapens sex. It's a bad away all around.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I don't have a problem with sex work and simply hope its done in the safest way possible for the person involved. The assumption here is that it's a conscious decision by the person to do it. The best reason of all, which can be found among some high end prostitutes who call themselves "escorts" and some people who do porn, is "I like sex".

What I do have a problem with is hosts (or pimps) stringing young women along with sweet nothings and getting them into prostitution to supply such hosts or pimps with easy money. If women are doing sex work, they should benefit from it, not some man. Yes, some women are gold-diggers and will partner up with men for money. However, such men will not be forced into prostitution. That's what happens with all too many of the victims of hosts.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This makes no sense to me. There are all these men who are willing to pay to be with them. Yet, they still feel the need to run up ridiculous tabs at clubs to be with other men?

How do their brains work? Do they not see the irony? They could be pocketing all that money for themselves, and make better lives for themselves, the way their host beneficiaries do. So stupid.

Gary, its Japan. Just shrug your shoulders and move on. Try to make sense of it, and you'll lose yours. I found that out a long time ago.

So even the lowest members of society discriminates against foreigners. I guess that means foreigners are even lower than prostitutes.

Yup, that's Japan. It doesn't surprise me at all.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Hardly surprising, regardless of locale.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@wallace You said I have made several accusations without posting a single solution to solving what is often called the world's oldest trade. First off you agree that this is the OLDEST TRADE! What makes you think if I made one solution to solve a problem that has been here since the test of time it will stop. Let me give you my point of view what legalization of prostitution does is, it MAY lead to exploitation of vulnerable individuals mainly YOUNG GIRL and increase human trafficking networks and set up markets for buying and selling sex. Also have you thought about the possibility of the inherent power imbalance between the sex work and the person buying the sex who can perpetuate coercion and abuse? What about the devaluing of human intimacy that legalizing prostitution could bring and the objectification of women or men where they can be treated as commodities? Personally I think one should live in a society and should be able to focus on promoting healthy attitudes towards relationships and sexuality, rather than normalizing the purchase and sale of sex!!! DO YOU GET MY POINT! I understand there are arguments like yours in favoring legalization or decriminalizing prostitution, and yes public opinion and legal approaches differ from country to country that reflect how complex this issue as you and I see it whether we agree or disagree. You can't solve the problem neither can I. I was asked to make a solution but I gave you my Valid Point!!! Hammer drop!!!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

kaimycahi

countries that have legal prostitution deal with the situation better than where it is illegal. Just like abortion too. Ban abortions and drive them back into backstreet abortions where women die.

You accuse me of being a sugar daddy without even knowing what it means.

legal prostitution also comes with a minimum age.

Legal prostitution does not solve all the problems but then illegal prostitution does not too.

Here in Japan, too many young school girls offer themselves up for sex.

Could you please use paragraphs for easy reading and no block letters?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

All four young women easily clear ¥1 million a month ... and probably don't declare any of it to the tax authorities. That's illegal as well.

You read this, and whether they pay taxes is your biggest concern? I really don't understand people sometimes. Should the tax authorities go after struggling prostitutes now?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Should the tax authorities go after struggling prostitutes now?

That is exactly what they are doing now and a large part of the whole MyNumber scheme. Did you know there are agencies now to provide fake company salary laundering for all those Kabuki-cho workers?

Or else they in their precarious economic circumstances would get soaked with all the regressive knock-on taxes here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For those that don't understand why they are willing to sell their bodies to be with hosts, you need to look up emotional dependency and intersexual selection.

Just as a woman can lead on men with a few saucy pictures, making them suspend disbelief just enough for them to give over their savings, so do the hosts do that for those women. All for the emotional reward of feeling a connection to one they desire.

Ultimately hosts and hostesses prey on the low self esteem and loneliness. Especially in a group oriented society like Japan, the breakdown of the family home leaves men and women feeling isolated and vulnerable. Also read the Iceberg Slim book that's famous from Dave Chappelle recommending it.

It's unfortunate but some people can get away with more for less in return. It's one human characteristics that constantly gets exploited.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites