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New column to track coronavirus calamity's impact on young women's livelihood

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"Living in desperation" is the title of a new column that commenced in Nikkan Gendai from Nov 26, and for its start, writer Kaoru Natsume tells the tale of a worker at one of the S&M bars in Shinjuku that was forced to halt business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The corona pandemic made me feel love in our family," says the former temp-help worker named Yumi. The 23-year-old Tokyo resident supplemented her daytime employment with a variety of nocturnal "underground" jobs.

Described as appealingly cute with a face somewhat resembling Yuko Oshima, an actress and former member of the AKB48 performing group, Yumi, while still in high school, "befriended" an older man for monetary considerations, an activity referred to as papa katsu.

She graduated from an occupational training school, but after being struck by an acute condition that caused significant hearing loss she was unable to find regular work.

One day Yumi was approached on the street by a "scout," which led to her debut as a performer in adult videos, but she found the job physically demanding and quit after less than one year.

At age 21, Yumi had developed an interest in the lifestyle of the old yukaku (licensed brothel quarters) of pre-modern times, and wanting to live out her fantasies, she took up employment at a high-class soapland (erotic bathhouse) in Tokyo's Yoshiwara red-light district. A session cost the customer 80,000 yen.

Unfortunately Yumi was unable to attract repeat customers, a prerequisite in the soapland trade, and decided to call it quits after just two months.

She subsequently took up employment in a massage parlor that involved erotic manipulation without going all the way. Then via Twitter she made the acquaintance of a single man in his 40s who operated an S&M salon -- an establishment catering to the incurably kinky who enjoy meting out, or receiving, pain.

"While a salaried employee he worked in investment," she relates. "He'd developed a fetish for S&M while in high school. But I myself wasn't really into the heavy stuff. Since I was willing to let him tie me up and engage in 'soft' play, we started going together.

When the man made it clear to Yumi he had no interest in marriage, her affection toward him cooled. But they remained on cordial terms and he introduced her to an S&M bar in Shinjuku.

"The atmosphere was like a regular snack establishment but the clientele were into S&M," she describes. "The mama, a woman of indeterminate age, was totally into 'S' (on the dispensing end) and at customers' requests would put a chastity belt or diapers on customers, spank them with a whip, or tie them up -- but strictly soft play, if you get my drift."

A typical week involved Yumi reporting for four- to six-hour shifts on three evenings a week --- enough to earn 250,000 yen a month in take-home pay.

Unfortunately with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the shop suspended business from March 2020.

"When they laid me off, the mama handed me 50,000 yen, which I really appreciated," Yumi said. "Since I'm not physically robust, at first during the corona disaster there's not much I could do except papa katsu, which involves taking tea with a customer for between 10,000 to 20,000 yen per session."

From last July, Yumi thought she had settled into a stable existence working part-time at an office job, but perhaps while socializing with her former employer (the mama-san), she contracted the coronavirus.

"Fortunately my symptoms weren't severe, and I was over it in about three days," she said. "Then I spent another 10 days recuperating at my parents' house.

"I had almost broken off contact with them," she recalls tearfully, "but it was during this time that I felt a real sense of gratitude toward my parents, and have given up the shady work to be a more filial daughter."

In a happy turn of events, Yumi recently got back together with her former boyfriend from the S&M salon. The two of them are now jointly operating a fully legitimate storage rental business.

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She graduated from an occupational training school, but after being struck by an acute condition that caused significant hearing loss she was unable to find regular work.

One day Yumi was approached on the street by a "scout," which led to her debut as a performer in adult videos, but she found the job physically demanding and quit after less than one year.

Instead of a robust social welfare system and direct, sustained relief to the populace during the pandemic, Japan has several routes to funnel women into adult industries and the tax money?...that is for GoTo. The pay is substantial but just like any pimp organized crime is taking a massive cut.

Walk around any major train station and see semis cruising around with music blaring and sides plastered with promises of lucrative pay.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@BigYen

Right on the spot! Frankly, I was expecting to see a reference to an article in Spa! at some point...

Joke aside, while the story was interesting, I did find the story actually depressing between:

The 23-year-old Tokyo resident supplemented her daytime employment with a variety of nocturnal "underground" jobs.

.the need to have 2 jobs to make it...

She graduated from an occupational training school, but after being struck by an acute condition that caused significant hearing loss she was unable to find regular work.

.the fact that a handicap can outcast you from regular work...

Described as appealingly cute with a face somewhat resembling Yuko Oshima, an actress and former member of the AKB48 performing group, Yumi, while still in high school, "befriended" an older man for monetary considerations, an activity referred to as papa katsu.

.have you go for "paid relationship" to survive...

One day Yumi was approached on the street by a "scout," which led to her debut as a performer in adult videos, but she found the job physically demanding and quit after less than one year.

.and an easy prey for the predatory AV industry...jumping from paid relationship to payment for sex either in front of a camera...

At age 21, Yumi had developed an interest in the lifestyle of the old yukaku (licensed brothel quarters) of pre-modern times, and wanting to live out her fantasies, she took up employment at a high-class soapland (erotic bathhouse) in Tokyo's Yoshiwara red-light district. A session cost the customer 80,000 yen.

....or in a bordello...

Unfortunately Yumi was unable to attract repeat customers, a prerequisite in the soapland trade, and decided to call it quits after just two months.

. where you may quickly be dismissed, but...

She subsequently took up employment in a massage parlor that involved erotic manipulation without going all the way. 

.fear not, the sex business is porous and lines up a new "opportunity" very soon...

Then via Twitter she made the acquaintance of a single man in his 40s who operated an S&M salon -- an establishment catering to the incurably kinky who enjoy meting out, or receiving, pain.

"While a salaried employee he worked in investment," she relates. "He'd developed a fetish for S&M while in high school. But I myself wasn't really into the heavy stuff. Since I was willing to let him tie me up and engage in 'soft' play, we started going together.

... by that time you already reached the point where you look for "stuff" by yourself as that is pretty much everything that people around you seem interested in...

When the man made it clear to Yumi he had no interest in marriage, her affection toward him cooled. But they remained on cordial terms and he introduced her to an S&M bar in Shinjuku.

.hoping for "something" else, but to no avail as knights in white armours are rare in these circles, I guess...at this stage of the story, and so many "relationships" circling around money you kind of wonder if he got his "cut" from the bar...?

From last July, Yumi thought she had settled into a stable existence working part-time at an office job, but perhaps while socializing with her former employer (the mama-san), she contracted the coronavirus.

.ultimately, back to square one but with some more luck (and, you know, maybe some perseverance)...

In a happy turn of events, Yumi recently got back together with her former boyfriend from the S&M salon. The two of them are now jointly operating a fully legitimate storage rental business.

....with finally some light at the end of the tunnel...

The Japanese version of a romance a la Pretty Woman, I guess, ripe with Adult Videos, prostitution, S&M sessions waiting for cute girls with handicaps...Depressing...

What's next in that column, how an aspiring idol-singer ends up in the same kind of place? Think, I'll pass...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Since when are we supposed to feel sorry for sex workers?

And not someone forced in to it either. She started off on this path at high school. Had all the same options and opportunities as everyone else, but chose to be a little harlot instead for handbag and jewelry money.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Sorry, this is just BS. They are NOT in actual financial distress. The reason they work in papa katsu and deriheru, etc day in and day out is for them to pay and keep their hosts. Why else would they still be in distress if they can easily make 50,000 a session???

If they just reduce their payment by 10% to their hosts per month they can live like the top 1%

Supporting them is just giving more money to the already richest class of workers in Japan, hosts

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In a happy turn of events, Yumi recently got back together with her former boyfriend from the S&M salon. The two of them are now jointly operating a fully legitimate storage rental business.

Every so often, it is good to read some fiction like this article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@BigYen

I Google what harlot is. It look the right word to me.

Soapland is a place for prostitute.

You say she not embezzled. Did woman pay tax for sex work and Soapland prostitute? I think probably to not. Not many prostitute in Japan pay tax.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Had all the same options and opportunities as everyone else, but chose to be a little harlot instead for handbag and jewelry money.

More exquisite reasoning on rare display today. And reading comprehension:

She graduated from an occupational training school, but after being struck by an acute condition that caused significant hearing loss she was unable to find regular work.

The government both forces people into the adult business emporium by lack of social support networks and enables the adult businesses but turning a blind eye to their shady business dealings.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Crime pays

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is not really 'track[ing] coronavirus calamity's impact on young women's livelihood'. More like a moral fable extolling filial piety: Women go back home and find a husband. Covid is dragging women back to an earlier age just as it is doing for air travel and tourism. Being a dominatrix is a good gig if you can do it well. I would spank and whip salarymen all day long for that sort of cash, but I think they prefer someone female.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Since when are we supposed to feel sorry for sex workers?

Never. There’s no requirement. But it certainly speaks to your character that you wouldn’t.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The government both forces people into the adult business emporium by lack of social support networks and enables the adult businesses but turning a blind eye to their shady business dealings.

Can you explain the part where she was forced in to this?

To quote a few highlights...

while still in high school, "befriended" an older man for monetary considerations, an activity referred to as papa katsu.

Hmmm... I wonder who forced her to do this.

approached on the street by a "scout," which led to her debut as a performer in adult videos

Nasty scout. She had no chance to say no.

wanting to live out her fantasies, she took up employment at a high-class soapland

I wish I was forced to live out my fantasies too. Sign me up.

She subsequently took up employment in a massage parlor that involved erotic manipulation without going all the way

Well OK... Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say she was forced to do this...

I felt a real sense of gratitude toward my parents, and have given up the shady work to be a more filial daughter.

Ah... And finally had the good sense to go back to her support network that was there all along, ready and waiting.

Can't keep blaming the government for this girl's choices and subsequent regret. Not everyone is a victim.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Can't keep blaming the government for this girl's choices and subsequent regret. Not everyone is a victim.

Not everyone is a victim but corporations, supposedly with rights of personhood, are sociopathic and predatory in returning profit to stakeholders above all else. And adult businesses are some of the most predatory, enabled by little government oversight and organized crime ties.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

That's true. Although rather more general an observation and not really applicable to the subject person of the article.

Feel free to retract the personal insults on reading comprehension and exquisite reasoning... And then we can go after the predators together when a real victim presents themselves.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They can still be no, not happy, but kind of a bit relieved, that they can play that card anytime in one way or another. Men cannot do that in such a number, but have to face the same bad pandemic and economic situation. Maybe they would also react very much differently if forced into such things. You better don’t want that…lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's true. Although rather more general an observation and not really applicable to the subject person of the article.

In a previous post you mentioned not just acknowledging facts but using interpretation.

So you should know news articles use interviews and case studies of individuals to talk about larger phenomena.

Point stands.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I feel baited and switched here. The headline makes this sound like contemporary social-economics focusing on ordinary women (plural), but the thing in the story is just more day-in-the-life-of-a-sex-worker type titillation for the overly curious.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I feel baited and switched here. 

Well, the intro sentence does say it's the first in a new series, so maybe the installments that follow will provide a better point of reference. Which was possibly Nikkan Gendai's intention from the get-go.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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