Japan’s tabloid media has been buzzing over the past week about the busts in January of 17 so-called joshi kosei (high-school girl) “reflexology” massage parlors.
Weekly Playboy (Feb. 18) is skeptical that the crackdown will put an end to the clubs, which in many cases offer much more than foot massages.
On January 27, officers from the juvenile affairs division searched the clubs in entertainment districts in the metropolis, including Shinjuku, Ikebukuro (club Cherry Girl), Shibuya (Shibuya 108 Rifure Kan) and Akihabara (Furiru and Hokago Rifure 22).
Last Thursday, officers applied formal charges to managers Yosuke Kiyama, 29, and Takashi Nemoto, 31, and two other employees from a total of four clubs for violations related to the Labor Standards Act regarding harmful employment.
Of the employees on the premises at the time of the raids, 76 of the 115 females were minors and taken into protective custody. Four employees were 15 years old.
“Reflexology clubs first appeared in Akihabara seven years ago,” says Shunichi Sasaki, the chairman of the Manseibashi Maid Cafe Communication Committee. “The shops offered hand and foot massages for customers, as well as conversation with young girls. The sales point was not about the girls. There was no intimate touching. However, a year ago shops where high-school girls would provide body contact started to increase.”
Dubbed “JK rifure” for short, the clubs typically charge between 2,300 and 3,000 yen for the first 30 minutes. For that, a customer can lie down in a private room next to a school girl and chat with her. The girls can also be taken off the premises on private dates for stints extending between 30 and 90 minutes.
Sasaki says for that for an extra 1,000 yen a patron can get a girl to rest on his arm, receive a hug, or engage in other one-on-one activities. “Furthermore, there are cases where sexual services are available as options,” says the chairman. “It’s clear that making girls do this is problematic. But it’s too late.”
A regular customer, in his 30s, describes his interest in the young masseuses. “It’s most enjoyable for me to enjoy my time with the joshi kosei girls,” says the regular. “And sometimes you can play with middle school girls. At a kyabakura (hostess club) joint, the ladies are dirty. At the JK clubs, the girls are pure. In my everyday life I can’t have a conversation with a school girl. But most of all, I can get a kiss and the chances she’ll rub my privates are very high.”
The regular says that having a minor provide such an intimate service brings upon feelings of guilt but also unusual excitement. “Then, depending on the girl, it could lead to sex,” he says.
There are a approximately 80 clubs in the 80 area. Weekly Playboy expects that the JK clubs will exhibit a low profile in the near future.
Sasaki says that non-shop operations have already started emerging to evade detection. “Recently, there has been an increase in girls attracting customers for private dates by handing out leaflets in the streets,” says the manager. “Because there is no shop, the true state of affairs is not known. In Akihabara alone, there are already 20 of these non-store operations.”
Yukihiro Kurobane is the author of “Girls Waiting for God,” a non-fiction account of young women who use the Internet to find male sponsors will to supply them with food and a place to stay. The writer compares the JK crackdown to the purification drive put forth in the red-light district of Kabukicho that began about one decade ago, but adds that it is not the end.
First, says Kurobane, labor costs are low, noting that a high-school girl will only have a base wage of 1,200 yen per hour. Second, the JK clubs have an enduring appeal to customers. “Because of that special feeling, promotion isn’t even necessary,” says the author. “JK clubs offering adult services will not die.” (K.N.)
Source: “JK rifure tekihatsu! Sore demo kagekika hissu na ‘joshi kosei fuuzoku’ no kongo,” Weekly Playboy (Feb. 18, pages 137)