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Japan’s sex parlors hauling out welcome mat for foreign tourists

Spa! Feb. 23
Spa! Feb. 23

On Tuesday, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced that an estimated 1,851,800 visitors from overseas arrived in Japan in January, an increase of 52 percent over the year before.

The figure represents a continuation of the surge experienced between 2014 and 2015, when the number of foreign tourists jumped 47% to a record 19.7 million.

According to Spa! (Feb. 23), many of these guests have been finding their way inside the nation’s legion of sex parlors — and the proprietors couldn’t be happier.

“Previously, the type of foreign customers we’d get was Hollywood actors or baseball players,” says Naoya Nishimura, the manager of Kinpei, a soapland bathhouse in the Yoshiwara brothel quarter of Tokyo. “But in recent years, the number of foreign travelers coming to the shop has increased. They now make up 15 percent of our business.”

Of that latter figure, 80 percent are Chinese, says Nishimura.

In explaining that rather high percentage, Yuki Okukubo, a writer specializing in Chinese affairs, says that Japan is a comparative paradise for hanky panky, claiming that the regime of Xi Jinping has made commercial sex expensive, unpleasant and risky in China.

“And since a customer can be held liable should a place be busted, many are now saying, ‘Let’s play safely in Japan,'” says Okukubo.

Nishimura adds that Kinpei — where prices begin at 15,000 yen for the first 50 minutes — is also seeing more Koreans and Indians, “and the number of Caucasians is exploding.”

Nana of bathhouse Kinpei
Nana of bathhouse Kinpei

Akira Ikoma, editor of a guide to the men’s entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), says that Japan’s fuzoku trade, an industry hit hard by falling prices in recent years, is being assisted by the surge in visitors.

“The big-name chains have been really taking over, and the small- and medium-sized enterprises had been struggling to take pieces of what is a shrinking pie,” says the editor. “But foreigners came to the rescue.”

Foreign customers are attracted to the concept of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality, as presented in the sex industry, says Ikoma.

“From the perspective of foreigners, Japanese women are submissive and quiet,” says Ikoma.

Time was, foreigners were discriminated against by proprietors in the industry. Such a practice appears to be fading.

“With the Olympics Games coming to Tokyo in 2020, signs saying ‘Foreigners OK’ won’t be appear but in essence they will be welcomed.” (K.N.)

Source: “Bakukai SEX rupo,” Spa! (Feb. 23, pages 24-26)