Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Japanese Porn Industry, an Open Secret

By Chu Yang
Edited by Hiram Foster

Rie Takahashi looks like any other 26-year-old girls in Japan, but she is special. When she was 19, she worked at one of the bathhouses in Kanazuen, of Gifu, to the west of Tokyo.

The bathhouses in Japan are not places where the clients take baths but actually stand for “soaplands” where male clients engage in sexual activity with female prostitutes. A number of soaplands are usually located in one area. Kanazuen, with 64 soaplands, is one of the well-known areas in Japan.

Photo by Tyoron2 of Wikipedia


(Image provided by Tyoron2 of Wikipedia.com)

Takahashi was one of the 1,500 girls who are working in Kanazuen. She worked there for almost one year. Every night she wore formal dresses and worked from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. She took a taxi to her work place from the station, even just 10 minutes’ walk, to keep her whereabouts unknown. However, one of her parents’ friends found her entering one of the soaplands and told them. They were shocked and angry with her, so she quitted the job.

She still had the expensive gifts the customers presented on her birthday and other holidays, like a Prada bag. Unfortunately, her customers also left her with unwelcome gifts, sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Yuki Nakama, 26, an English teacher in Hida Takayama High School, used to be one of her good friends, but after she worked in the soapland, Nakama didn’t contact to her anymore.

“She was a good friend, but I didn’t want to talk to her after she worked there,” Nakama said. “That is such a bad thing, and her life has changed a lot.”

Sex and Japanese Culture

In Japan, sex-related workers are still not accepted by Japanese society, especially for old generations and women. Not only are girls who provide sex-related service not accepted by the society, but also actresses in adult videos rarely find a way to return to the mainstream after earning fame in this industry.

Michika Tsuda, 23, a Japanese senior studying Chinese in Shanghai International Studies University has strong opinion on the sex industry. “Actually, I think pornography is not necessary.” Tsuda said. “I do not understand why it exists in the world, to satisfy men or to make more money?”

Most Japanese still keep a fairly conservative attitude towards sex-related topics. Few people talk or joke about it. Within families, parents barely mention this in front of kids. Sex-related conversation will only take place among several close friends or between couples.

Although talking about sex-related topic in public is considered a social taboo, the prevalence of pornography in Japan is surprising. People could easily access pornography through convenience stores, rental stores, bookstores, cell phones, Internet, even the vending machines, almost everywhere in Japan. Also, the adult videos in Japan are well-known for its variety of genres. Some of these genres even make people in other counties feel sick, like rape sex, incestuous sex, and child pornography.

When walking on the streets in Japan, it is usual to see this interesting image: a man buys an adult magazine from a convenience store, then he immediately puts it into private sections when he walks out the store. The mindset most Japanese are insisting is that desiring for sex is acceptable, but speaking out or showing this hope is not right.

“We always try to hide our emotions and needs,” said Takatoshi Egmi, 28, an English teacher in Meijo High School, Nagoya. “We are educated to be modest and restrained in public. Showing interest in sex easily makes you look lustful, and that goes against my education. But, you know, sex is an instinct, the harder you try to inhibit, the more extreme ways you have to find to release the pressure coming from the control.”

This unique mindset in the society makes most girls in this industry are afraid of being recognized by others.

The Industry

Kanazuen area operates a website named “Kana-Zoo”, listing information of all the girls who are working in there. The website categorizes the girls into different types, like mature women, amateurs, Lolita, and so on, so web users can filter girls by types, time length they serve, one to three hours, and price, ranging from ¥15000($200) to ¥25000($300) per hour.

It’s as if the girls are waiting in display windows to be picked up by customers. Most photos the website shows are edited by blurring or pixelization, while some girls simply cover parts of their faces with a hand.

In spite of socially unacceptable job, most girls still choose to work secretly. Not like the girls in some developing countries who have to earn their bread by this job, most of the girls in Japan work for extra money to buy luxury products, like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

“I do not think most of them have to live on it,” Miki Oba, 22, a college student in Nagoya, said. “In Japan, it rarely happens that someone has to sell her body to make a living. I think they want to make a lot of money to buy expensive bags. In Japan, some girls are crazy for that stuff.”

Naoto Higuchi, 24, a Japanese graduate student at OU feels the same way.

“If someone wants to make a living, she could probably find a part-time job,” said Naoto. “Some might have no choice, but for most of them, this is a better way to earn more money in short time.”

Hideyuki Tanaka, 22, senior in Ohio University, has a more tolerant idea of sex industry.

“Generally, people don’t think the girls are working but selling bodies to the public,” Tanaka said. “But I do not really care so much. There is demand in the market, so supplying the service is not a bad idea. I think they are working, just like other jobs. Men need the girls to satisfy their demands, so they should respect them. Otherwise, the girls are not tools of releasing men’s lust. I think that is totally wrong.”

1 comment:

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