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Coffee, tea or me? Low-cost carriers to reshape Japan’s sex industry

Ore no Tabi May
Ore no Tabi May

On March 14, the Hokuriku Shinkansen opened for business. The line provides a direct connection between Tokyo and Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture.

At the start of the year, evening tabloid Tokyo Sports (April 15) predicted that Kanazawa’s quarters offering fuzoku (sex-related) services — notably, the Katamachi area — would experience a boost in business. But with initial reports indicating that train occupancy has been less than expected the paper feels now that it might have over simplified the matter.

Akira Ikoma, editor of a guide to the men’s entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey) tells the paper that it is too early to determine whether there will be an impact on the sex trade. “I’d like to wait until summer vacation,” he says.

But the editor is not overly sanguine as low-cost airline carriers form the new means for how people travel.

Six months after the completion of the Kagoshima Route in the Kyushu Shinkansen in 2011, JR Kyushu reported that ridership was up 64 percent between the cities of Kumamoto and Kagoshima over the year before. Likewise, the fuzoku industry experienced a boost in customers, but that was not the whole story.

“In researching Kyushu, I found that a round-trip ticket can be had for as little as 10,000 yen,” says Ikoma. “Women in the sex trade” — for example, ladies toiling in soapland bathhouses in Beppu, Oita Prefecture —“have told me that they traveled via low-cost airlines, not the shinkansen.”

“In the future, the fuzoku trade will focus on urban areas — primarily Tokyo, where there is a tendency for over concentration,” continues the editor.

The Katamachi entertainment area of Kanazawa
The Katamachi entertainment area of Kanazawa

People of the smartphone generation, including working gals, are well informed on how to buy airline tickets cheaply. “It is possible that working away from home in Tokyo will become standard in the fuzoku industry,” says Ikoma.

Komatsu Airport serves Ishikawa Prefecture. Air Do, which serves Sapporo, Hokkaido, is the only low-cost carrier using the airport.

“We have heard from readers who are eager for a fuzoku experience in Kanazawa,” says Ikoma. “However, tickets for the Hokuriku Shinkan are expensive (approximately 25,000 yen round-trip from Tokyo). If more low-cost carriers were available, both customers and working gals would use them.”

Source: “‘Kaigyo 1-kagetsu de garagara’ Hokuriku Shinkansen…fuzoku-kai e no eikyo wa,” Tokyo Sports (April 15)