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What it’s like when the sex trade hits rock bottom

Spa! July 3-10
Spa! July 3-10

As the economy continues to spiral downward, wages in Japan’s sex industry are testing new lows. And Spa! (July 3-10) reports that growing numbers of women down on their luck, who during better times could command generous remuneration for “compensated dating,” now find themselves dispensing relief to ad hoc customers in public parks and on the landings of emergency stairwells of darkened buildings — a practice referred to as aokan (outdoor indecency).

Late one evening, at an unnamed spot in Tokyo’s Minato Ward: A short distance from a train station, several young women can be seen seated on a bench in the nocturnal gloom of a public park, texting on their cell phones.

“Hi, what’re you doing?” asks the reporter.

“I’m working,” one replies. “Are you looking for some action? We can do it in a rental room. Or if that’s no good, we can go over to that toilet.” She gestures in the direction of a public lavatory.

Nami (a pseudonym) is a bit on the chubby side. Her going rate for oral sex is 3,000 yen. (“And it doesn’t cost you anything additional if we do it in the toilet,” she adds.)

According to an authority on the sex trade, Nami and the other ladies in the park are actually employees of a nearby hote toru (erotic bath service that operates out of hotel rooms).

“Instead of just sitting around waiting for customers, they’ll go out and solicit business on the sidewalk, or even engage in their own ‘private business’ on the side,” he explains.

Tokyo’s near-neighbor Yokohama is said to be a “Mecca” for low-life high jinks. In Sueyoshi-cho, Naka Ward, beneath the tracks of the Keihin Kyuko line, Chinese hookers and Korean transvestites prowl the back alleys at night, trolling for pick-ups. They are willing to couple with customers on the fire escapes of nearby buildings or in the darkened corners of parking lots.

“Since the police have been cracking down lately, I won’t do it outdoors now,” says a woman from Taiwan. “It has to be in a hotel or an apartment.” Some women arrange to pitch in and rent a one-room manshon that they share for entertaining their Johns. But a middle-aged Japanese hooker tells the reporter, “Nobody ever comes around there, so I’ll do it with a customer sometimes. It’s better that way, if they don’t want to pay for a hotel room.”

The spot she indicates is strewn with discarded condoms and crumpled tissues.

Late one evening in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, after the trains stopped running, the reporter witnessed this incident: a man who appeared to be in his late 40s accosted a woman in her 20s. He then handed her several bank notes, and the two of them strolled into a building that had not been shuttered. The reporter surreptitiously followed them. Not long afterwards, he heard animated noises; peeping around a corner of the fire escape landing, he saw them engaging in sex.

Speaking afterwards to the same building’s custodian, the reporter was told, “No matter how much effort I put into cleaning up, I’m always spotting discarded condoms on the fire escape.”

One pickup artist who prowls the Shibuya district knows an office building that’s perfect for quickies. “The occupants are mostly consumer finance companies and nobody’s ever around late at night,” he says. “If the girl’s really cute I’ll take her to a hotel, but if she’s a dog I’ll save money and just do her standing up.”

With more buildings installing security cameras he worried briefly about being detected. “But even if the camera picks you up, they don’t dispatch security guards, so there’s no hassle,” he laughs.

Source: “Aokan baishun no genba ni azen,” Spa! (July 3-10, page 22)