A Sagami Rubber Industries researcher explains the condoms production process at a laboratory in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan's condom industry looking to benefit from Rugby World Cup, Tokyo Olympics

By Jack Tarrant

As Japan gears up to host the Rugby World Cup and Olympic Games in consecutive years, many businesses are seizing on the opportunity to capitalise on the influx of tourists, media and athletes for both big events.

The Rugby World Cup kicks off in September 2019 followed by the Tokyo Games 10 months later, giving businesses a unique chance to reach an international and diverse customer base that may be encountering Japanese products for the first time.

One business sector looking to benefit from the arrival of thousands of athletes is the local condom industry.

It has become tradition in the lead-up to Olympic Games for tournament organisers to distribute thousands of free prophylactics to athletes looking to let their hair down once their event is over.

Almost half a million condoms were handed out in the 2016 Rio Games Olympic Village, whilst condom packaging for the Beijing 2008 Olympics featured the Games' motto "faster, higher, stronger".

With roughly 10,000 athletes expected to descend on the Olympic Village, once described by gold medal-winning Australian target shooter Mark Russell as "the most testosterone-fueled place on earth", Japanese condom companies are keen to promote their unique products to an international audience.

Sagami Rubber Industries' condom products are displayed at its factory in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sagami Rubber Industries, one of Japan's leading condom makers, is hoping to use the Olympics to enhance awareness of their ultra-thin Polyurethane sheaths.

Sagami, alongside Japanese competitor Okamoto, produce the world's thinnest condoms, which are only 0.01 milimetres thick.

"Only two companies, Sagami and Okamoto, are producing the 0.02 and 0.01 milimeter condoms and so we think the Olympics are a good opportunity to show this Japanese quality all over the world," Sagami senior sales manager Hiroshi Yamashita said.

Britain's Durex -- the official sponsor for London 2012 -- U.S. brand Trojan and Australia's Ansell are the major players on the international market but Yamashita believes Okamoto and Sagami are next in line.

Yamashita spoke of the popularity of the ultra-thin condoms in neighbouring China and believes Tokyo 2020 can help broaden Sagami's scope worldwide.

Olympic organisers have yet to name an official condom supplier.

"If the International Olympic Committee ask us then we would be very happy to supply our product for the Tokyo 2020 Games," said Yamashita, who predicts 150,000 condoms will be needed.

The ferry-shaped love hotel CUE SEA STORK is seen next to a highway in Machida, Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

One place where these condoms could end up being used is at one of Japan's famous love hotels as Tokyo 2020 organisers face an expected shortage of accommodation.

Japan is already dealing with record numbers of tourists -- 28.69 million in 2017 -- and the government has set a goal of 40 million foreign visitors by 2020.

In order to satisfy the needs of this influx, the government is keen for tourists to use alternative means of accommodation, such as love hotels, capsule hotels and traditional Japanese inns (ryokan).

Many customers are finding themselves drawn to Japan's love hotels; short-stay hotels with themed rooms that can be reached through discreet entrances, out of curiosity as much as need, according to travel website Booking.com http://www.booking.com.

"The key that we see in the market at Booking is around curiosity of culture and I think a lot of people are just interested to see what it is like," said Booking's Regional Director for North Asia Adam Brownstein.

"Where there is nothing like it where they come from, they want to experience it. That is the great thing about travel: you can try new things and kind of peek behind the curtain."

Love hotels can be booked by the hour, as well as for longer stays, promising guests privacy. In the past, this has been associated almost exclusively with sexual activity.

However, times are changing.

Booking.com has seen the number of bookings in the love hotel category leap 48 percent in the past year and expect that trend to continue as rugby and Olympic fans look to experience all that Japan has to offer.

"What is interesting about the love hotel sector is that they have very interesting facilities, for example karaoke rooms -- which is pretty cool for many foreigners -- some will also have bars or very large rooms for families," added Booking's Tokyo area manager Donna Morris.

"So we see that it is not just the sort of customers that you might expect to go there."

American tourist Jerome Davies, who was visiting Tokyo this month with his wife and three children, said he had chosen to stay at a love hotel because it offered a large room at a much cheaper rate than a regular hotel.

"Its clean, it's well located and it suits our family just fine," said Davies, standing outside the hotel he had booked for four nights.

"I have stayed in a lot worse places."

Davies is not alone as thousands of foreign visitors turn to love hotels as a cheap way to broaden their horizons.

As Japan prepares to host back-to-back major sporting events, the country faces an unprecedented challenge but also, for some businesses, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase what they have to offer on the world stage.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Well, I hope they hand out a lot of booklets about STD's with free samples. Personally, rubber tubes are a turn off to me.

I do love the picture though. If it was just a random image, I would have thought it was NK showing off more new missiles. Probably the best photo JT has ever had. Thumbs up to the photo.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

This is the story of ruggers and the rubbers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As per previous articles and discussions on JT, my guess is that the topic of the size of locally made rubbers will come up.  Not sure that these two events are going to be game changers for the local johnny manufacturers though.

and also why the article interviews a bloke here with his family (relevance to rubber buying?) is puzzling.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Faster, higher, stronger .

Speed I have that nailed already, my wife says I'm very fast. Higher? How does that work. Stronger, working on that. Too much speed work up to now. Ganbaremasu!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japanese condoms are too small for me . They need to make bigger ones to accommodate the foreign gentleman

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

We get told every Olympics about the numbers of condoms handed out to competing athletics, I doubt they get used at the numbers claimed, as half of the athletics would arrive, compete, do some local sight seeing and leave with out indulging in any "extra curricular" activities. As for the fans its anyones guess, its already been reported that there is an expected 20,000 "working girls" coming from Korea alone add in some local girls indulging in a short term career in the redlight industries it wouldn't surprise me these "ladies of the night" DONT get the business as expected.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

From experience, I've found western rugger types to be rather disappointingly small, compared to the Japanese. Let's smash those stereotypes, together!

But kudos for condoms.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Athletes like to have sex........... with each other, lol

ESPN: "Athletes spill details on dirty secrets in the Olympic Village"


Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the Summer Games and 2,700 at the Winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world's most exclusive clubs. "It's like the first day of college," says water polo captain Tony Azevedo, a veteran of Beijing, Athens and Sydney who is returning to London. "You're nervous, super excited. Everyone's meeting people and trying to hook up with someone."

Which is perfectly understandable, if not to be expected. Olympians are young, supremely healthy people who've been training with the intensity of combat troops for years. Suddenly they're released into a cocoon where prying reporters and overprotective parents aren't allowed. Pre-competition testosterone is running high.

But once their events are over with all that desire they've long been suppressing?

Many Olympians are in tapering mode, full of excess energy because they're maintaining a training diet of up to 9,000 calories per day while not actually training as hard. The village becomes "a pretty wild scene, the biggest melting pot you've been in," Quickly the reality sinks in that the village is "just a magical, fairy-tale place, like Alice in Wonderland, where everything is possible,"

Youths in their prime with the best bodies they'll ever have in their lives

On the way to practice fields, "the girls are in skimpy panties and bras, the dudes in underwear, so you see what everybody is working with from the jump," says Breaux Greer, an American javelin thrower. "Even if their face is a 7, their body is a 20."

"There's a lot of sex going on," says women's soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, a gold medalist in 2008. How much sex? "I'd say it's 70 percent to 75 percent of Olympians

Many on-the-prowl athletes maintain that they're driven by a simple human need: intimacy, if only for a moment or three. For most Olympians, the ramp-up to the Games is lonely. Not unlike movie stars on a far-flung movie shoot, the Olympics present the perfect opportunity to find a partner who understands where they're coming from.

"Think about how hard it is to meet someone," Azevedo says. "Now take an Olympian who trains from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day. When the hell are you supposed to meet someone? Now the pressure is done, you're meeting like-minded people ... and boom."

American tourist Jerome Davies, who was visiting Tokyo this month with his wife and three children, said he had chosen to stay at a love hotel because it offered a large room at a much cheaper rate than a regular hotel.

"Its clean, it's well located and it suits our family just fine," said Davies, standing outside the hotel he had booked for four nights.

Just make sure sound-proof walls, lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There's only 1 brand in Japan vaguely suitable for Foreigner's - that's the Big Boy one.... they're unexciting, and come in a shade of Black.

As the other Poster suggested, some of the other brands aren't really suitable - I've tried many, and when they're too tight you loose sensation; but worse, they're liable to break (which can lead to an awkward and inevitably expensive situation).

The more recent 0.01mil ones looked promising, but sadly they too could do with a bit more stretch, otherwise they just end up like a small cap sitting at the top.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I agree with mmwkdw, even the thin ones feel like they are already stretched & very little actual give. I used to use the big boy ones but the shape is not great. Durex designs provide a much better fit by not being the same shape all the way along but it's a shame they are impossible to find in Tokyo anymore. Which is weird given their huge market share overseas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

that's the Big Boy one.... they're unexciting, and come in a shade of Black. there the only ones that come close to fitting , easy just to steer clear of Japan condoms and get them on Amazon USA, Trojan Magnum XL

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess foreign made condoms are subject to a ... handling charge, that makes them less attractive for casual usage.

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