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History of Prostitution in Japan: Modern Brothels the Envy of the World! Part Two

Men's Cyzo - Original Japanese Date: March 26th, 2015
English Translation Published: October 30th, 2015

The Japanese brothel industry has been around for over a thousand years and even after a devastating war, exists and prospers.

(Translator's note: This post is a continuation of a previous entry.)


Even streetwalkers weren't immune to the anti-prostitution law. They were also targeted and rounded up and their numbers began to dwindle. It was around this time that more and more 'women of the night' found themselves working at 'Turkish baths'.

Turkish baths were a fast-growing industry after the war and their numbers severely increased when the legality of prostitution was overruled. It was most common for customers to receive handjobs at one of these establishments. Actual sex did happen, but was not as common as one may imagine it to be. Either way, these bathhouses were very popular with men and by 1979, there were an estimated 1,450 registered in the country with millions of customers and substantial profits.

It was also tough to regulate them compared to brothels of old that were very straight-forward with what they offered. Any attempted regulation would just end up with the brothel industry changing up its ways slightly to match whatever the current laws stipulated.

One such example of a law-skirting brothel are pink salons which were introduced in the late 1960's. As an attack on pseudo-brothels only giving hand services, pink salons upped the ante with oral sex. Even today you can still find them in large cities.


Pink salons as depicted by modern Japanese AV.

The 1970's and 80's saw even more varieties of brothels open their doors. One of the more unique variants were no-panties cafes. A cafe in Kyoto called 'Journey' had the idea first: waitresses sans panties in short skirts and tables equipped with hand-held mirrors that the clientele were invited to use. The services offered were look-only at first, but mutual arrangements soon were offered as the 1970's merged into the 1980's. At their peak, approximately 800 no-panties cafe were in operation. One of the benefits to these cafes were the low hurdles women had to jump over to gain employment in the brothel industry. From students to office ladies, regular women had an easy way to 'show a little' and make a decent wage.

A good deal of 'brothels' in the 1980's were no-panties cafes—at least on paper. However, there also were cosplay clubs, handjob parlors, and may other types of businesses as well catering to selling sex. Even today options are near limitless and foreigners are quite envious of what's available in Japan compared to back home.

Japan will probably clamp down again on its burgeoning sex industry as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaches. However, what we have is way too ingrained into Japanese society for the government to truly do any serous damage. What's more, fans from foreign countries have been flocking to Japan and along with regular touring, they are experiencing our sex industry for the first of many times. If anything, perhaps the sex industry will expand even more in the coming years as we become more cosmopolitan.

You can't crush the Japanese sex industry. Rather, it keeps growing and growing. It's been a part of Japanese culture for over a thousand years and is also a solid foundation of our unique culture. What's more, brothel and soapland queens are far from slaves; they are goddesses of relaxation in the most holistic of ways. Calling them dirty and whorish is derogative and as far from reality as one can possibly go.


Written by Miyuki Nakagawara


Men's Cyzo recommends this title to readers of this article.


(Translator's note: Some soaplands still do not allow foreigners entry. STDs and communication barriers are the main issue. It truly is less about racism so you can put your pitchforks down. Even if you don't look Japanese, if you have a strong command of the language, you should be able to enter any soapland you'd like. They may be surprised at first and possibly refuse entry, but showing that you know and speak the rules of the world will open many doors into the real pleasures of Japan's expansive sex industry.)

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