TOKYO (TR) – Foreign visitors are flocking to Japan in greater numbers than ever before in what is proving to be a boon for the nation’s tourism industry.
There were some 24 million foreign visitors in 2016, about five times as much as in 2003 (5.21 million), according to statistics by the Japan National Tourism Organization — and the number is only poised to continue climbing.
The result has been foreign visitors blending into everyday life, taking with it the psychological distance that some may have felt toward them and giving birth to all kinds of interactions.
One trend that particularly stands out is Japanese women singling out foreigners to engage in extra-marital affairs, muses business and finance weekly Toyo Keizai (Oct. 07).
A 39-year-old woman’s tale
A 39-year-old woman going by the name Masami Kurosu tells the weekly that she was driven to cheat on her husband of over 10 years after what she said was a sexual drought of some five years. Kurosu, who earns some 8 million yen a year running a food import company, says they have a daughter in middle school who is hardly bothered by her carousing at night.
“When it comes to foreign tourists, it’s basically a one-night love [affair]. I got hooked on this three years ago,” Kurosu said. “I had all this pent-up frustration after my husband started suffering from erectile dysfunction, so I was drinking all the time with a man I knew — but we never went all the way to a physical relationship.”
That changed while she as out wandering around in Golden Gai [in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward] after a night of drinking. “I got hit on by this handsome Swiss guy who said he was a cop,” Kurosu remembered. “We started getting involved from that day on — and that’s what opened me up to this world.”
Prostitutes frequented Golden Gai until they were banned from the area after the Anti-Prostitution Law took effect in 1958. Boasting a teeming nightlife with hundreds of tiny bars and eateries, the seedy area emerged as a tourist hot spot in 2009 after earning two stars in the “Michelin Green Guide Japan.” Golden Gai continues to attract tourists eager to soak up the retro vibes found in its dense, sprawling alleyways.
“Foreigners don’t like [cover] charges, so I go alone to places that claim to have no charges. Then, when one of them tries to snap a picture, I’d close the distance by being like hey, ‘Take a picture?’” Kurosu said. “I can barely speak English, but for now, I’m pretty much in a ‘win every battle’ sort of situation. What’s attractive about physical relationships with foreign men is just how different the whole process is depending on the country.”
The Swiss cop was young with blue eyes and blond hair, Kurosu recalled. “But you know, I was surprised to find his hair down there was blond, too,” she said.
Conquering over 18 countries
Standing over 170 centimeters, Kurosu has a strikingly attractive appearance — just not, as she says, to the typical Japanese man.
“Your average guy would get cold feet if they saw me,” Kurosu laughed. “My husband is all about height, so he proposed to me saying he loved tall women. But you know, if you look at Japanese men, you’ll see how they like small, cute girls who are thin and young. So I’d always end up on the sidelines. But foreigners aren’t like that. There are Germans and Australians who like big and strong women. Then there are French and Spanish ones who won’t turn down whoever comes their way. This is just my view, but I think you can pick to your heart’s content when it comes to your plaything.”
Kurosu says she was involved with men from over 18 countries so far, and doesn’t limit herself to just Golden Gai.
“I also head to bars in Ebisu and Roppongi where foreign tourists like to gather, and I’ve had some experiences there too, but it just didn’t sit right with me,” Kurosu said. “I guess I still feel like my battleground is Golden Gai, where there’s lots of foreigners who are more in tune with Japanese sensibilities.”
Playing with fire
Kurosu said that foreign men usually take the initiative and put on condoms for her, a sentiment shared by another woman who identified herself as Noriko Nakamura, 45. She works at a foreign insurance company and has two kids in middle school with her husband of the same age.
“Foreigners will admire the body of even a 45-year-old woman, and they put on condoms, too,” Nakamura said. “How do I find people? Well, I use a dating app called Happn, which has a location service. It’s a pretty recent app made in France, and it shows you the details of anyone you cross paths with on your timeline.”
“It all started when I was at a disco in Roppongi for a work party. I started feeling good while I was dancing after drinking, and suddenly I was having relations with an Australian man at a hotel he was staying at,” Nakamura said. “I usually head to Roppongi, Shinjuku and Asakusa when I use the app. I’d usually head to a joint where foreign tourists like to drink at around 10 or 11 p.m., go wherever they’re staying, and then go home late at night. That’s how it usually goes, usually about once a month. My family won’t find out, either, at that frequency.”
Both women said interactions in bed prompted them to start learning English, which even came in handy for them at work.
It probably goes without saying, but the lifestyles being led by Nakamura and Kurosu are hardly worthy of praise. Still, these high-income wives apparently have no intentions of breaking up their families, reasoning that if they were going to play with fire, there’s less risk going with foreign men who have come from afar.