After first arriving in Tokyo in 2004, within a mere 10 days I was deteriorating physically. The combination of high amounts of alcohol and a very stagnant existence devoted almost purely to scouring the internet for work opportunities and long, aimless walks down alley ways at midnight had taken a toll. All that and the hours of compulsive masturbation.
On day ten I had wandered into a small barber shop in West Shinjuku to get a trim in order to stay sharp for my yet to be scheduled job interviews. The haircut was a travesty and the experience was ridiculous.
As I stumbled out of the tiny little barber shop, directly across the narrow wet street, was a black, smoked glass, door with the words “24 hour Health Club” printed on it in pink letters.
The idea of paying a little cash to get under some iron and work up a sweat seemed like a decent trade-off. There hadn’t been quite as much ninja-battling as I had anticipated before arriving in Japan and I was losing condition. I was tense and on edge, my future plans unsure. The act of exercising seemed to be just what I needed at that moment. I wasted no time and went inside.
One might say that the pink lettering on the door should have set off more bells than it did, but having been bombarded with nothing but strobing neon images culminating in sensory overload for the last ten days I gave it literally no consideration.
Inside I walked through a short black hallway into what seemed to be some sort of waiting room. I stood there dumbly looking around the tiny room at the little sofas, the Lava lamp. “What the hell kind of Gym is this?” I thought.
What kind of Gym…
At that moment an older Japanese woman came out from around another corner and literally gasped jumping back a solid foot when she saw me standing there.
Her tiny hands shot up to form the ever-present “X” shape, signaling “No foreigner, no-no.” Then holding this strong “X” shape in front of her body and vigorously shaking her head “no” she inched towards me.
My mind floundered for a Japanese word out of the ten or so I had in my head that might help.
“Sayonara” seemed appropriate.
The Reality vs. The Illusion
Japan functions delicately by ignoring reality and insisting on maintaining a very calm and acceptable surface facade. This is called “Tatemae” and “Honne” These are recognized social mechanisms in Japan. Tatemae is the preferable illusion. Honne is the undesirable reality.
These are not novel concepts and have been covered extensively in the literature. However a basic understanding of the two is needed if one hopes to understand the sexual culture and its corresponding business’s in Japan.
In Japan, as in many other countries the family is given an exulted status as an institution worth maintaining.
The bond between parents and children is respected as is that between Husband and Wife.
At the same time though, everyone generally understands that men like to get their joints worked by someone other than their wives, from time to time. Hence the silent agreement in many a marriage here, that the man can go see hookers as long as he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Girlfriend could mean an intrusion into the mans heart; where as the wives know that hookers are just that: numb humping service robots.
Or so the theory goes.
The fact is, most girls get into the murky abyss of the sex industry for one primary motivating factor….
The annual unreported and non-taxable income of the prostitution industry in Japan is upwards of 945 billion yen. That’s about 8.5 billion U.S. dollars, every year.
The biggest name brand retails in the world make the lions share of their profits in Japan. Hermes, Versace, Gucci. They all clean house here. With the average monthly income being about 2,200 USD per month, one is left wondering where those high-end vendors are unloading their goods year after year.
As far as the Porno bizz is concerned, legitimate statistics are hard to come by. That having been said it is an absolutely massive industry. But for example, Soft on Demand, ONE of the more prominent yet more vanilla companies record profits, THAT’S PROFITS, of 8 million USD. This is only one company in an ocean of competitors.
The money is there to be had. Hookers or Porn, people are getting paid and sex is the product. We all know, sex sells.
I referenced this article.
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