Osaka’s answer to the Tokyo geek paradise of Akihabara is Nipponbashi — a district that Weekly Playboy (Oct. 29) says is quickly changing into a lawless collection of dubious cafes and parlors peddling erotic services.
One disgruntled office worker in his 20s, a regular customer at maid cafes, where young girls in costumes serve food and drinks and engage in conversation, describes one particular establishment as a “bottakuri mise,” or rip-off joint.
As advertised by a cute girl on the street in a maid uniform, a cup of is indeed 500 yen, he says, but once inside prices escalate: An omelet with rice is 2,500 yen, the charge to select a particular girl is 1,000 yen, a 30-minute chat goes for 5,000 yen, and “before you know it you’ll wind up with a bill of 12,500 yen.”
Weekly Playboy says that this particular maid cafe was busted on September 1 for employing a 14-year-old girl — a violation of the Labor Standards Act regarding employment of minors.
The cafe, which is not named but is in fact called Maid Rimu, opened for business again within three weeks, still charging exorbitant prices.
Another man in his thirties walked into a similar cafe with 40,000 yen in his pocket and walked out with a bill for nearly double that figure. Weekly Playboy wonders how such blatant scamming is legal.
“During the economic recession, Nipponbashi has been thriving due to its regular otaku (geek) clientele,” says one shop manager in the district. “So for several years, businesses not affiliated with otaku types started to infiltrate Nipponbashi.”
The manager provides examples of the Nipponbashi transformation: Kyabakura (hostess) clubs established maid kyabakura clubs and game merchants started maid casinos.
“Enforcement of laws prohibiting bottakuri practices by the Osaka prefectural government do not target Nipponbashi,” says the same source. “That’s why disreputable businesses in the Kita and Minami areas that have been shut down by the cops move to Nipponbashi. Here, they can repeat the same rip-offs.”
Weekly Playboy advises that bottakuri scams are not only being carried out by maid-related establishments as such activities also take place at shops offering entertainment by high-school girls (known as JK, which is short for joshi kosei).
Two writers for the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper (Sep. 26) take a stroll around the area, specifically the Otaku Road loop, to discover a pair of young girls in school uniforms, claiming to be 18 or 19 years of age, touting for an unmarked shop on the second floor of a building.
Inside the establishment, the journalists play a round of video games, enjoy some juice (priced between 1,000 and 3,000 yen per cup), engage in a 30-minute conversation, and are presented with a bill of 15,000 yen, which they are told includes an added charge for conversing with the staff members.
The manager of an otaku shop says that recently school girls offering reflexology massages are in demand, but services go beyond the mere application of pressure to the feet or hands. “Services are rendered in a private room, and it gets shady, with a lot of body contact taking place,” the source says.
Available options at such establishments include a slap in the face (500 yen), a five-second hug (1,000 yen), a kiss while resting in the girl’s lap (1,000 yen), and a one-hour walk (8,000 yen).
“Other extreme options I have been hearing about include deep kissing and some lewd activities,” says another manager. “One-hour walks outside the shop in which the girl changes into her regular clothes are also available. If she is in civilian clothes, the pair can walk right into a love hotel just like a regular couple.”
Source: “Bottakuri ni JK rifure! ‘Nishi no Akiba’ ga ero no muhochitai to kashite ita!!” Weekly Playboy (Oct. 29, page 148)