In the 1967 film “Belle de Jour,” French actress Catherine Deneuve plays a beautiful housewife who works as a prostitute while her husband is at work.
If weekly tabloid Shukan Post (Aug. 15-22) is to be believed, women in Japan are following Deneuve’s lead.
In a special article on illicit activities undertaken during the day by married women (or hitozuma), the magazine says that an increasing number of such women are taking up the world’s oldest profession on the sly.
For the inside scoop, the magazine turns to Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to the men’s entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey).
“After the ‘Lehman Shock‘ of 2008, it became clear that the number of housewives working in the fuzoku (adult-entertainment) industry was on the rise,” says the editor. “Since there has not been a recovery since, it remains difficult to find work (in conventional employment). So women are continuing to struggle in the sex trade to pad their savings accounts.”
A 34-year-old “delivery health” employee resembling actress Kimiko Ikegami tells the magazine that she works three times a week, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., earning 300,000 yen each month.
“The truth is that I think I can earn more, but I do not want to negatively impact the life I have now,” she says.
According to Ikoma, there are 300,000 women working in the fuzoku industry. Of them, 30 percent (or 100,000 women) are housewives.
Last month, Fuji TV began airing “Hirugao — Heijitsu Gogo Sanji no Koibitotachi” (Afternoon Face — The Weekday 3 p.m. Lovers), a drama starring popular actresses Aya Ueto and Michiko Kichise, both of whom portray wives engaged in affairs for thrills.
Such boldness is not the norm in the fuzoku trade. In fact, according to Ikoma, the average hitozuma hustling as a prostitute is very careful.
“If their home is in Nagoya, then they’ll work in Gifu,” says the editor. “If Osaka then it will be Shiga. There are a lot of women who want to have a feeling of separation between work and home.”
A 45-year-old woman in the Kansai area going by the name “Mariko” commutes to Tokyo.
“Every month, my husband, who works at a trading company, goes on a business trip,” says the woman, who resembles Kichise character in the Fuji TV drama. “So I started taking ‘business trips’ as well.”
Due to her expensive tastes, she has blown a substantial amount of her husband’s money, and now she has taken a job at a high-end soapland erotic bathhouse to make amends.
“The things I thought about prior to joining were the provision of an accommodation, assistance with an alibi and security,” says Mariko about her concerns when she first began scouring the Internet.
After an interview, she was hired, but at the time she knew next to nothing about what she was getting herself into.
“I received a training session, but I was worried, for example, about how to handle strange customers,” says Mariko, who now earns 1.5 million yen per month. “But they’ve been very kind.”
As Ikoma’s estimates reveal, the number of women taking the plunge is not small — and non-fiction writer Ayumni Sakai, who herself was once employed in the sex trade, says that one reason is that the generation of school girls who dated older men for money — popularized in the vernacular press starting in the early 1990s by the phrase enjo kosai, or compensated dating — is all grown up now.
“The enjo kosai generation knows that their bodies can be exchanged for money, and now they have become married women,” says Sakai. “But it is not just about the money; their purpose can be to discover what lies inside.”
Kaorin Mizushima, a lecturer on the sex industry, explains that the number of housewives entering the sex industry due to lack of satisfaction at home is on the upswing.
“They want to enjoy sex due to desire accumulated from being in a sexless marriage,” says the lecturer. “They have a strong need to be recognized as women. With that being the reason, they do not hold back, and the hitozuma genre is very popular in the sex industry.” (A.T.)
Source: “Otto no inu aidani karado wo uru ‘AV’ ‘fuuzoku’ ‘hirugao’ hirusagari no joji, ” Shukan Post (Aug. 15-22, pages 162-165)