TOKYO (TR) – Following a deluge of complaints, a large Tokyo-based travel agency has canceled a promotion in which customers could travel in the presence of “Beautiful Girls” from the nation’s top university, the company announced on its Web site on Wednesday.
H.I.S., which is based in Shinjuku Ward, offered an apology for any “uncomfortable feelings” that may have resulted from the promotion, which offered winners of a drawing the chance to travel with one of five female students, studying various fields, from the University of Tokyo.
The move follows a surge of claims on social media, according to the Asahi Shimbun (May 12), that the promotion is “vulgar” and a form of “sexual harassment.”
All of the students are featured in “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Girls of the University of Tokyo,” a book produced by a club at the university that shows the students doing a number of activities, including strumming a shamisen and posing beneath cherry blossoms.
Since it first went at sale at the university’s “May Festival” in 2014, the book has proved to be a huge hit. After the initial run of 300 copies sold out quickly that year, the club upped the number to 1,000 at the festival the following year.
Under the promotion, travelers were to be able to “be seated next to one of the girls” on a flight to an overseas destination. The companion would also convey information connected to their field of study about the destination and points of interest.
“The concept was (for the customer) to pass the time in the cabin of the aircraft in a fun and meaningful way,” a representative of H.I.S. is quoted by NHK (May 12), “but this has given rise to a misunderstanding. We took everyone’s opinions seriously and decided to cancel the promotion.”