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Japan’s strip clubs facing last (lap) dance

Minako Komukai made several appearances at Asakusa Rokku-za
Minako Komukai has made several appearances at the Asakusa Rokku-za theater
On October 15, Saito Kanko, the management company for the Asakusa Rokku-za strip theater in Taito Ward, initiated bankruptcy proceedings at the Tokyo District Court, according to research firm Teikoku Databank.

Saito Kanko, which began managing the entertainment aspect of the theater in April of 1984, dismissed its 10 employees and ceased operations in August. The company claimed liabilities totaling 238 million yen.

According to Nikkan Gendai (Oct. 24), the filing is representative of the entire industry, which is teetering on the brink.

“With the Internet now offering adult video (AV) films at no charge, patronage has dropped off,” says the writer.

Asakusa Rokku-za opened its doors in 1947. Located in Taito Ward’s Asakusa area, a historic area once known for street performances and stand-up comedy, the theater subsequently became a fixture.

The venue often features performances by current and former AV actresses, including Eriko Goto, Hitomi Kobayashi, Maria Ozawa and Minako Komukai, who made her debut at the theater in June of 2009.

The Asakusa Rokku-za’s peak in popularity came half a century after it opened. The theater reported an annual revenue of 880 million yen in 1994.

“At present, attendance is less than half of what it was a decade ago,” says the writer.

Fuzoku writer Taizo Ebina says that the theater’s struggles are not solely due to consumers downloading digital content.

“Also to blame is the rise of the soshoku danshi,” says Ebina in using the popular term (meaning “herbivorous”) that describes men who lack confidence. “The number of men interested in seeing beautiful women naked has dropped.”

That, plus today’s strippers do not possess charisma.

AV actresses might be very good looking but they lack personality, at least most don’t have enough to get customers lining up at the box office,” the writer says.

General admission for the 300-person-capacity Asakusa Rokku-za is 5,000 yen. (Students and seniors are eligible for a 1,000-yen discount.) The theater hosts five shows daily, with each extending for approximately 100 minutes.

The venue is still operating but a future management plan has not yet been decided upon. (A company called Azuma Building remains in place for day-to-day operations.)

However, the theater’s future — if not that of the entire stripping industry — remains largely in doubt.

“The stripping industry is in dire straits,” says Ebina. “Nobody knows who will go bust next, and all the theaters across the nation are trembling with fear.” (A.T.)

Source: “Fusai 2 oku-en chō…gekijo Asakusa Rokku-za wa naze oitsume rareta?” Nikkan Gendai (Oct. 24, page 7)