Part of the economic stimulus provided by "Abenomics" has resulted in stimulation of the lower anatomy of certain consumer segments, and as one result, the soaplands (erotic bathhouses) in Tokyo's Yoshiwara district are enjoying revived demand.
Shukan Shincho (Aug 1) has coined the word "Awanomics" to describe the boom. "Awa" is Japanese for suds, which the district's masseuses apply to the torsos of male customers as a prelude to dispensing various sexual services.
"Men who have made a killing in the stock market might opt to visit a super deluxe shop that charges 60,000 yen or more for two hours," says Akira Ikoma, editor of the "pink" information magazine, "Ore no Tabi," who adds that at the opposite end of the spectrum are more affordable places where a customer can enjoy himself for between 10,000 to 20,000 yen, with shops for customers on a shoestring budget that charge as little as 10,000 yen for a half-hour romp.
"'Nenkin' (national pension) disbursements are made on the 15th of every other month," Ikoma relates, "and around those days you can see nattily dressed seniors marching in. While some places in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku don't admit older men, Yoshiwara's more broadminded -- you don't see them treated that way."
These spry seniors, who've been designated the "Yoshiwara pensioners' tribe," appear determined to put their remaining time in the world to good use.
"A lot of them fortify themselves beforehand with ED medication, which sells for about 2,000 yen a pop," relates a skeptical-sounding manager at one Yoshiwara establishment. "One customer in his 80s boasted to me, 'I do it twice a month, once here and once with my wife.'"
Meanwhile, the number of Chinese customers visiting Yoshiwara is definitely on the increase, according to a member of a Asakusa district neighborhood watch committee.
"I get the feeling that the popularity of the nearby Tokyo Sky Tree has something to do with promoting our district," he says. "Looking down from above, you get a full view of Yoshiwara. When the guides tell them, 'That's a place to have fun at night' male tourists tend to react enthusiastically."
Hiroki Fukushima, president of Toshima Ward-based Toho International, and a person who makes it his business to know about affluent Chinese consumers, tells the magazine, "Two years ago the restrictions on tourist visas to Japan were relaxed, and since then word has been circulated that Yoshiwara is the place to go for 'the ultimate in service.'"
"I've been told that China also has soaplands, but Chinese say 'They're not the least bit interesting,'" an unnamed "critic" of the sex industry is quoted as saying.
"When they come to Japan, they are specially moved by the heartfelt service provided by the masseuses, which make them feel they're receiving the ministrations of a lover. Not merely sex, these run the gamut of free cigarettes or juice (paid for by the girls out of their own pockets), or even an offer to iron out the wrinkles on their slacks."
That said, some Chinese customers are a bit on the unrefined side. "Once there was an incident where three men used the same commode simultaneously, leaving the floor sopping with urine," the critic relates. "There have also been numerous cases when customers claimed that the masseuse they had picked from a photo was not the same girl, and they refused to pay. They apparently don't realize that in some shops the photos of the girls are intentionally retouched to make them appear slightly different. But Chinese are somewhat vain and interpret this as a malicious attempt to cheat them."
Some older Chinese also appear to have trouble restraining themselves from provoking a debate with the girls on the subject of the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands territorial dispute, he adds.
"But in traditional Yoshiwara fashion, the girls avoid confrontations by dispensing an extra measure of energetic 'service' that leaves such customers in no shape to complain about anything," the critic grins.© Japan Today