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Burlesque show exotic dancer Aya Yumiko poses with her show props at her house in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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Japan's coronavirus lockdown strips exotic dancer of her savings

19 Comments
By Kim Kyung Hoon and Tim Kelly

Exotic dancer Aya Yumiko has been living off her savings since March waiting for the bars and clubs in Tokyo where she performs in burlesque shows to reopen.

But a decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week to extend a state of emergency to tackle the coronavirus pandemic until the end of May means Yumiko could use up her last reserves of cash before she can get back to work.

"I had enough saved up to last me for two or three months," the 40-year-old dancer who performs under the name Aya Mermaid told Reuters before Abe's decision.

During her unexpected break she uses a sewing machine at home to fashion new costumes from feathers, faux fur and other materials, and tries to keep fit with springtime runs through a nearby park.

aya.jpg
Burlesque show exotic dancer Aya Yumiko stretches while she works out near her residence in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan's lockdown has been less severe than many other countries, with bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues asked to stay closed rather than ordered to do so.

Despite a 110 trillion yen stimulus package, the Japanese economy is slowing, with factory output down and consumer prices in Tokyo falling for the first time in three years.

Self-employed gig workers like Yumiko, who have less access government financial help and have already seen their income evaporate and savings dwindle, will be among the most vulnerable.

Yumiko says she makes as much as 300,000 yen a month from two performances a week. Most of that, however, is from tips, which means she has no way of showing how much she usually earns should she apply for government relief.

"People like me can't rely on those guarantees," she said.

Under Abe's stimulus package self-employed workers can claim as much as 1 million yen if they can show their income has more than halved.

Raised in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, Yumiko dropped out of high school and moved to Tokyo when she was 16 with less than 2,000 yen to her name.

She worked various jobs and traveled overseas before becoming an exotic dancer five years ago after seeing a burlesque show, and yearns to get back on the stage.

"I wonder if I will get to wear this," she said as she sat in her apartment holding one of her new costumes.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Yumiko says she makes as much as 300,000 yen a month from two performances a week. Most of that, however, is from tips, which means she has no way of showing how much she usually earns should she apply for government relief.

She would have if she had declared her income and paid tax.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

At that age and in that line of work, she needed to do a much better job of saving her income.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I guess looking for a sympathy angle in this story.But it's another single person,who didn't save their money.And two to three months of savings isn't saving.6-8 months emergency fund is considered the norm.She's 40 not 20.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/drive-thru-strip-club-coronavirus_n_5eac4c0ec5b624b39692963d

The above link is to an article about how some strippers in The States are coping.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

See you at the next 81 party Aya.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry to hear she has no money left. I wish I could go to her show when the virus is gone. Strange how they said "stripped" of her money.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Crowd funded online shows.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A 40 year old burlesque dancer, yikes... she should consider herself lucky to have made it to that age doing that.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

America's most popular stripper is in her 90's. This one is still a spring chicken.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@1glenn Thanks for that link :D

@zichi We need a link for that one!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A 40 year old burlesque dancer, yikes...

And what’s wrong with being a exotic dancer at 40? Feel like 40 is the expiration date for a woman...

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Feel like 40 is the expiration date for a woman...

in terms of paying money to see her dance erotically, yes.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

in terms of paying money to see her dance erotically, yes.

40s Japanese women age better than most western females of the same age,pound for pound.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

40s Japanese women age better than most western females of the same age,pound for pound.

this is also very true. Western women of the same age look nothing like them, body wise. Still you wouldn’t pay money to watch them dance

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

There is nothing wrong with being 40 and doing what she does. If she can still draw in a crowd, then more power to her.

However, having said that, she couldn't have expected to do this forever. She has finite number of years left until she'd probably has to pack it up and find another way to make money. She lived for 'now' rather than the future all her life, and now it looks as if its going to catch up to her.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Governments are ready to close companies and people down but not willing to support them.

Aya will be hoping for her two masks and 100k yen only then...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Burlesque isn't for kiddies, you guys. Burlesque is for grown-ups. Many female burlesque artists are 40 or over, and from the look of Aya Mermaid she'd have no problems attracting an audience of mature gentlemen and ladies who know what this stuff is all about.

More power to her, and hopefully some money too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This story is being passed around the media outlets like an exotic dancer in a club.

Does she expect some kind of special sympathy for being in the situation she put herself in? Everyone else is complaining and feeling the pinch, too. When times were good, she had no issue with not claiming her tips to be taxed. Now that it comes back to bite her, oh no, boo hoo, life is so unfair.

Go ask all your suitors to help you get thru these tough times, or go get a job at your nearest conbini if your money is running out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yumiko says she makes as much as 300,000 yen a month from two performances a week. Most of that, however, is from tips, which means she has no way of showing how much she usually earns should she apply for government relief.

She would have if she had declared her income and paid tax.

Exactly. Can't have it both ways

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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