There was a time when the lowest price offered for entry to a soapland bathhouse was 25,000 yen.
Even with “Abenomics” — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to raise government spending in an effort to boost prices — those days are long gone. Spa! (May 14) says that in today’s deflationary market there are numerous options whereby customers can engage in foamy fun for an outlay as low as 10,000 yen.
“In Yoshiwara, there are options starting up whereby customers can get in and out in 30 minutes for 6,000 yen,” says the editor in referring to the Tokyo’s biggest brothel quarter. “The bust of a soapland chain (in October) has resulted in its soap gals moving on to low-priced establishments.”
Abenomics has boosted the Nikkei stock index by more than 60 percent since November and sent the consumer confidence index for February to its highest level in more than five years.
But instead of an increase in prices at the nation’s bathhouses, Spa! has found that a price war has emerged. “The battle to attract customers has become intense,” says Ikoma.
To sample some of Tokyo’s wares, magazine recommends Violence, one of the 15 bathhouses in the Ikebukuro entertainment area. Early-birds arriving between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. are eligible for 2,000-yen discounts off the 11,500-yen basic entry price.
Not to be outdone is Yokohama’s Fukutomicho, where one establishment offers services starting at 9,995 yen. The magazine includes a photograph of one happy customer holding a receipt for that amount. In Kobe’s Fukuhara district, Kinoko employs 30 girls to service customers at rates that start at 12,000 yen for the first 45 minutes.
The red-light district of Nishi Kawaguchi, located in Saitama Prefecture, was known as the original deep-discount area even before Japan began its Japan’s multi-decade battle with deflation. Law enforcement cracked down on the area’s brothels starting in 2004, but something of a renaissance has emerged — one in which the price does not necessarily reflect the level of the services rendered.
“Even though the price is 10,000 yen, that is not indicative of the quality,” says Ikoma. “In these recessionary times, the high-end shops still provide luxurious facilities.”
Source: “Gekizo suru 1manen maruhi fuzoku zenkoku rupo,” Spa! (May 14, pages 44-47)