The vortex of deflation hitting Japan’s sex industry continues to swirl downwards. Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 27) reports that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police recently pounced on two massage shops in Toshima Ward and arrested Kim Su-hong, its 43-year-old South Korean operator, and two associates on charges of operating a sex shop in an area where such business are prohibited.
Upon investigation, the authorities learned that Kim’s two shops, named Silk (絹) and Ogi Hompo (扇本舗), were servicing over 100 customers a day. What amazed them was the revenues raked in by the low-priced high-volume businesses, where customers from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. paid 4,000 yen for 30 minutes of ministrations. After 5:00 p.m. the price rose to 5,000 yen.
These bargain rates notwithstanding, the two shops averaged combined earnings of 35 million yen a month. Over the six and a half years they were in operation, it’s estimated total turnovers reached a whopping 190 million yen.
Ever more amazing, the ladies that toiled therein were described as neither particularly young nor attractive.
“The women working there ranged from ages 21 to 51,” sex industry journalist Yukio Murakami tells Nikkan Gendai. “Very few of them could be called pretty, but in a way that’s a good thing. The proprietor used to point out that they ‘got along well with middle-aged or older men.’ He’d deck them out in Japanese kimono and their image as cheerful amateurs endeared them to the customers.
“Anyway, it seems that the shops got a lot of regular patronage from retirees who received a steady income from their pensions. The main service was a hand job, but some girls who were reviewed by customer posts on the shops’ web sites were willing to let customers ejaculate in their mouths during oral sex. Most of all, the places did well because the women worked hard to please the customers,” adds Murakami.
With the prolonged recession, the cut-rate shops are ever pushing the envelope — downward — as prices for sex continue to decline. Some soaplands (erotic bath houses) where the going rate for honban (intercourse) used to be 30,000 yen or higher are now said to offer it for a third of that rate.
“Some pink salons in Tokyo now bill customers 100 yen per minute, or 1,980 yen for 20 minutes,” says Murakami. “And some shops will throw in a second hostess for the same low price. And you can get laid in a cheap Chinese esute (aesthetic salon) for 7,500 yen.
“Delivery health (outcall sex) services managed to hold the line at 12,000 yen until two or three years ago,” Murakami continues. “But now some have dropped their prices to as low as 7,000 yen. And the girls who once expected an additional tip of 10,000 yen to go all the way are now happy to give over their bodies for just 1,000 yen.”
With the government unable to stem the deflationary spiral, it looks like both the sex shops and the girls therein are in for a long struggle to keep their heads above water. (K.S.)
Source: “Gekiyasu fuzoku: naze boro moke dekiru no ka?” Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 27, page 7)