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Tokyo's sex industry moving to regional areas due to pre-Olympic crackdown

12 Comments

The sex industry walks on eggshells at the best of times. These are not the best of times. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are approaching.

 Will there be a crackdown? Has it already begun? No announcements have been made, hard evidence is lacking, Spa! (May 1-8) can’t be sure, but there are, it says, signs – and precedents: for example, Osaka’s 1990 Flower Expo, which saw the forced closure of numerous soapland establishments on one pretext or another.

There’s always a pretext, Spa! says – if not the anti-prostitution law, then fire regulations, or if not them, a misrepresentation of the true nature of the business transacted.

The Japanese word fuzoku refers to erotic entertainment which may or may not involve the client’s active participation. Organizers of international events like the Olympics want to display their country’s most dignified face to the world. Fuzoku does not qualify. The less seen, the better. The industry’s garish signs are themselves, in the official view, an eyesore.

The city of Oyama in Tochigi Prefecture is about an  hour’s drive north of Tokyo. Its fuzoku industry is famous nationwide, says Spa! Attractions include foreign women who are reportedly conspicuously younger than their Japanese counterparts. Among local establishments is one – was one, rather – called the Sexy Beam. Last September it was shuttered and its operator arrested under the anti-prostitution law.

Ex-staffers, left high and dry, pooled their resources and opened another establishment in another area of the same city. They called it Nyu-yoku – a clever play on the Japanese word meaning to bathe, and of course New York. It didn’t survive long enough to open its doors. It too was shuttered. Only the sign remains – a sad reminder, muses Spa!

Does this herald a massive crackdown on Tokyo-area fuzoku as the Olympics approach? Fear that it might is helping to fuel an outward migration to smaller centers remote from the capital. “There are those who say it adds up to an economic revival for the regions,” Spa! observes.

And there are others who are enjoying the development for its own sake – among them the fuzoku workers themselves. “Two weeks out of the month I spend working in the provinces,” says “M-san.” She’s 32 and works for a Tokyo-based deriheru service. The two English components of that portmanteau word are “delivery” and “health,” which means sexual service delivered to your home, if that’s convenient, or, if  not, some other venue of your choice – a love hotel, for instance.

A colleague introduced her to the notion, and took her to Fukui Prefecture. Her first thought on arrival was, “What am I doing here?” But the advantages of the setup were quick to reveal themselves – in the form of a transportation allowance, a guaranteed minimum fee, and higher earnings generally. Other women in the trade have made the same discovery. The standard accommodation, M observes, is a 50-room dormitory – and the rooms, she says, are always full, occupied by women like herself, come from Tokyo to exploit regional opportunities.

In whatever part of the country you happen to be, she says, “there’s always a love hotel strip by the main highway. The turnover rate is good. No sooner are you done in one room than you’re on your way to the next hotel – or sometimes to a different room in the same hotel.”

And tips. In Tokyo, maybe one customer in 20 tips. In the country, two or three in 10 do. Often they bear gifts, locally famous treats and the like: “I didn’t know whether you like sweet or bitter, so I brought both.”

Does she have a favorite region? Of course she does. “Tohoku. Tohoku people are not outwardly friendly, but in their own quiet way, they’re very considerate.”

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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Hmm!

Any fuzoku-fueled economic revival has not reached Kochi yet. A couple more of the old love hotels from the bubble-economy era have closed.

I wonder when the mags will start projecting post-Tokyo Olympics. I wonder if Kochi will even notice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thought I read an article that Tokyo is expecting an influx of hookers from other parts of Asia - 20,000 from South Korea alone - the police and Government may publically state there is a crackdown happening, personally it wouldn't surprise if thousands of local girls become short term hookers to get some easy cash this is on top of all the expected imports.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Andrew Crisp - good comment. It happened during the Vancouver Olympics. The girls come from everywhere. Pardon the pun.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Anyone who is okay with this "industry" has no moral business objecting to sexual harassment, objectification of women, or human trafficking. That would be sheer and utter hypocrisy.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Worth ¥1 trillion per year business mostly untaxed. International sex workers hit all the major events like the Olympics, World Cup.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Anyone who is okay with this "industry" has no moral business objecting to sexual harassment, objectification of women, or human trafficking. That would be sheer and utter hypocrisy.

I'm ok with the sex industry, as long as the women are in it voluntarily. I have a major problem with human trafficking, and think it is one of the most despicable things on this planet. And as for objectifying women it really depends on the women. For the women in prostitution whom it empowers, I don't see that it's objectifying.

So no, no 'sheer and utter hypocrisy'.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As for the argument about human trafficking, I have read a lot about it, but never met anyone involved. I met a number of classmates in college who paid their way through college working in the sex industry. One went on to become a public school teacher, another went on to become a well respected psychologist. We have a Nisei relative who spent ten years as a high end call girl in New York City, working for herself, then took her nest egg to Germany, got married, and settled down.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Anyone who is okay with this "industry" has no moral business objecting to sexual harassment, objectification of women, or human trafficking. That would be sheer and utter hypocrisy.

It would seem that way only if you are unable to distinguish between all of the above. Such is the problem with black and white views of the world.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Women in the sex industry know that they are sitting on a gold mine and are capitalising on it. It's as simple as that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's unfortunate but the sex industry around the world will never go away. The exploitation of women continues, and while they may try to hide it during the Olympics, it's just lip service.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The turnover rate is good. No sooner are you done in one room than you’re on your way to the next hotel – or sometimes to a different room in the same hotel.”

Yikes!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I feel very bad for thousands of local girls/women who became a short term or full-time hookers to get some easy cash this is on top of all the expected imports. I want government do something in favor of these sex workers so that they also live a happy life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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