‘Hostess yoga’ studio visited by education minister not sex business, says manager

Positive Star Yoga
Some instructors at Positive Star Yoga are former gravure idols

TOKYO (TR) – Following revelations in a weekly magazine that Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, visited a so-called a so-called “hostess yoga” studio, the manager of the establishment fired back on Tuesday, saying the business is not illicit.

“This is not a hostess club,” wrote Yuko Shoji, of Positive Star Yoga, on her blog. “It has no relation to a dubious sex business.”

The comment was in response to an article appearing in Shukan Bunshun that same day that reported on the visit of Hayashi, 57, to the studio, located in the Ebisu district of Shibuya Ward, for two hours on April 16.

Female instructors at Positive Star Yoga provide private yoga lessons and oil massages in individual rooms at a rate of 11,000 yen for the first 60 minutes. With the studio permitting masseuses, many of whom being former gravure (pin-up) idols, to communicate with customers via the smartphone application Line and enjoy meals together, television programs often refer to it as a “hostess yoga” parlor.

Shoji also cleared up a mistake in the article, which said that she is a former adult video actress. “I am a former gravure idol”, she wrote. The manager, who became a certified yoga instructor while working as a pin-up star in June of 2010 — four months after the release of her first fully nude photograph collection “February 22” — added that the article was a form of sexual harassment and occupational discrimination.

Yuko Shoji appears in a DVD for label Soft On Demand
Yuko Shoji appeared in a DVD released by label Soft On Demand in 2010
“Positive Star Yoga is a healthy yoga studio, and I’ve worked hard to promote this aspect,” she wrote. “Nonetheless, this malicious report is causing inconvenience to both customers and instructors, which is creating a feeling of sadness. It is a complete obstruction of business.”

“Free time in my schedule”

During an interview with Bunshun, Hayashi said his visit was for “health” purposes. When asked how he could attend such a session amid the ongoing Kake Gakuen cronyism scandal involving Abe, he said, “Well, I had some free time in my schedule.”

A photograph appearing with the article shows the minister exiting a black van, which is an official vehicle for the ministry, upon arrival at the studio. On Wednesday, Hayashi told reporters that his actions were within the Ministry’s rules for use of official vehicles. “However, I think I should be more careful in the future to prevent a misunderstanding,” he said. “Also, I would like to apologize for causing confusion while a tense environment exists in the Diet.”

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