Types of prostitution in modern Japan

(Redirected from Fashion health)

Prostitution, as defined under modern Japanese law, is the illegal practice of sexual intercourse with an 'unspecified' (unacquainted) person in exchange for monetary compensation,[1][2][3] which was criminalised in 1956 by the introduction of article 3 of the Anti-Prostitution Law (売春防止法, Baishun bōshi hō).[1][4] However, the definition of prostitution made illegal under this law is strictly limited to sexual intercourse with an 'unspecified person', and does not criminalise the sale of numerous other acts performed by sex workers in exchange for compensation, such as oral sex, anal sex, mammary intercourse, and other non-coital sex acts; the Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law of 1948 (風俗営業取締法, Fūzoku eigyō torishimari hō), also known as the "Law to Regulate Adult Entertainment Businesses", amended in 1985, 1999 and 2005,[5] regulates these businesses,[6] making only one definition of prostitution in Japan illegal.

Following the criminalisation of payment for sexual intercourse, the sex industry in Japan has developed into a number of varied businesses and offering services not prohibited under Japanese law. These fall into a number of categories known by various euphemistic names, such as soaplands, fashion health shops, and pink salons, with the term "health" commonly being a euphemism for sexual services. These businesses typically operate out of physical premises, either with their own employees or freelancers such as call girls, who may operate via Internet dating sites known as deai sites (Internet dating sites) or via delivery health services.

Fashion health


Fashion health (ファッションヘルス, fasshon herusu), also known as "fashion massage", is a form of massage parlor which circumvents Japanese laws by offering a range of services that stop short of sexual intercourse.[7] Fashion health clubs are typically found in most of Japan's larger cities, operating out of physical premises decorated with bright flashing lights and generally bright and garish decor. They commonly post pictures of their "masseuse" employees near the entrance, though the face and eyes may be censored with pixellation or black strips; some club entrances feature caricatured depictions of the services provided.[8][9][failed verification] It was especially famous by that name in the 1980s.[10]

Delivery health


Delivery health (デリバリーヘルス, Deribarii herusu), also known as "shutchō health" (出張ヘルス) or by the abbreviation deriheru (デリヘル), is a category of sex work in Japan that offers a "call girl" or escort service, dispatching sex workers to their customers' homes or to hotels.[11][12][13] Delivery health businesses do not typically operate out of physical premises, instead employing freelancers, and advertise through handouts sent to mailboxes, posters in telephone booths, public toilets and similar places, usually in large cities within Japan; advertising is also conducted through a number of websites online.[citation needed]

Image club

This uniform is an example of the costumes worn in image clubs.

An image club (イメージクラブ, imējikurabu), or imekura (イメクラ), is a type of brothel in Japan similar to fashion health parlors, differing in that image clubs are typically themed in the style of common or popular sexual fantasies, such as an office, a doctor's office, a classroom, or a train carriage. Sex workers employed at image clubs, whose activities are usually limited to oral sex, wear exaggerated costumes appropriate to the setting and the desire of the customer.[14] Image clubs simulating molestation of female train passengers became popular in the wake of stricter enforcement of laws against groping on trains.[15]

Image clubs may offer itemized pricing for particular services, such as taking instant photographs, removing a woman's underwear or taking it home.[15] Women working at image clubs are paid around 30,000 to 35,000 yen per day, and may make more than 1 million yen per month.[16]

Pink salon

Pink salons in Japan

A pink salon (ピンクサロン, pinkusaron), or pinsaro (ピンサロ) for short, is a type of brothel in Japan which specialises in oral sex. Pink salons avoid criminalisation under Japanese law by serving food, operating without showers or private rooms, and limiting the services provided to fellatio.[17] Pink salons may also offer additional activities such as fingering a customer's "companion", and sumata (intercrural sex). Pink salons are found across Japan, and workers commonly see a dozen or more customers per shift.[18]


The front of one Soapland shop in 2015

Soapland (ソープランド, sōpurando), or sōpu, which first developed following the criminalisation of compensated sexual intercourse with unacquainted persons in the late 1950s, began as a simple bathhouse service where women washed men's bodies. Originally referred to as toruko-buro, meaning 'Turkish bath', the businesses were renamed following a 1984 campaign by Turkish scholar Nusret Sancaklı [ja; tr], with the name "soapland" chosen as the winning entry in a nationwide contest.[19] The term is a wasei-eigo term, constructed from the two English words soap and land.[7]

Soaplands exploit a loophole in Japanese law, wherein compensated sexual intercourse may be conducted between "specified" (acquainted) persons. In his book Fuzoku Eigyo Torishimari (Control of Sex Business Operations), Kansai University professor Yoshikazu Nagai documented the practice of soapland businesses, wherein customers pay an entry fee to "use the bathing facilities", and a separate fee for a massage. Whilst the massage takes place, the masseuse and the customer become "acquainted", resulting in any paid sexual services following this as not being viewed as prostitution as defined by the law, an interpretation that has been utilised since the 1960s.[7] However, some soaplands have, in previous decades, been prosecuted for violating the Anti-Prostitution Law, having been deemed to be places of prostitution, resulting in the cessation of these businesses.[20]

A number of different types of soaplands exist, typically located in complexes with varying numbers of soaplands. Well-known complexes can be found in Susukino in Sapporo, Yoshiwara and Kabukicho in Tokyo, Kawasaki, Kanazuen in Gifu, Ogoto in Shiga, Fukuhara in Kobe, Sagaminumata in Odawara, and Nakasu in Fukuoka. A number of other areas, especially in onsen ('hot springs') towns, also feature soaplands.[21] Although the main clientele for soaplands are men, there are also a few soaplands specifically for female clients.[22] Prices for a session at a soapland vary depending on location, time of day, rank of provider, and length of the session.



Sumata (素股, "bare crotch"),[23] translated as "intercrural sex",[24] is the Japanese term for a non-penetrative sex act popular in Japanese brothels. It is a form of genital-genital rubbing performed by a female sex worker upon a male client. The sex worker rubs the client's penis with her thighs (intercrural sex) and labia majora.[25][23] The goal is to stimulate ejaculation without penile vaginal penetration, an activity circumventing the Anti-Prostitution Law.[26]

See also



  1. ^ a b "5: The definition of prostitution is applied to limited sex acts (e.g. Japan)". Sexuality, Poverty and Law. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  2. ^ Ministry of Justice (Hōmushō), Materials Concerning Prostitution and Its Control in Japan. Tokyo: Ministry of Justice, 1957, p. 32. OCLC no. 19432229.
  3. ^ Sanders 2003, p. 41.
  4. ^ For the name, see WWWJDIC (link Archived 3 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine)
  5. ^ Hartley, Ryan (Spring 2005). "The politics of dancing in Japan" (PDF). The Newsletter (70).
  6. ^ Sanders 2003, p. 28.
  7. ^ a b c Hongo, Jun (27 May 2008). "Law bends over backward to allow 'fuzoku'". The Japan Times Online. Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  8. ^ Nobu, Tatsuo; Vardaman, James M. "現代人のカタカナ語辞典 ファッション マッサージ" [A dictionary of katakana words & abbreviations fashion Massage] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Shūeisha. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  9. ^ Nobu, Tatsuo; Vardaman, James M. "コトバンク ファッションヘルス" [Kotobank fashion Health] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: CARTA HOLDINGS (CARTA HOLDINGS). Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  10. ^ Matsumoto, Raita (2019-05-01). "ノーパン喫茶 ファッションマッサージと、新法令の施行" [No-pan kissa, Fassion Massage, and Enforcement of the new law]. Cyzo [ja] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  11. ^ McLelland, Mark J. (2005). Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Age. Asian Voices. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7425-3787-3.
  12. ^ Kawakami, Sumie (2007). Rutledge, Bruce (ed.). Goodbye Mme. B.: sex, marriage and the modern Japanese woman. Chin Music Press. p. v. ISBN 978-0-9741995-3-5.
  13. ^ Bryan, Stefhen Fd (2008). Burton, Susette (ed.). Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile and Excess in Japan. Kimama Press. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-615-26810-1.
  14. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (2 April 1997). "A Plain School Uniform as the Latest Aphrodisiac". New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  15. ^ a b Wood, Gaby (1 April 2001). "Sex and the city". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  16. ^ "Sex-service recruit rags sizzle in summer". The Tokyo Reporter. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  17. ^ "Blowjob bars around the world: Where they are, how they work". Rockit Reports. November 19, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "Interview with a Japanese Blowjob Bar (Pink Salon/Pinsaro) Worker". Rockit Reports. November 21, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  19. ^ Constantine, Peter (1993). "Chapter 2: Soaplands". Japan's Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan's Erotic Subcultures (1st ed.). Tokyo: Yenbooks. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-4-900737-00-6. OCLC 37135004.
  20. ^ "売春防止法違反 事件番号 平成25(わ)24". 岐阜地方裁判所刑事部. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  21. ^ Takahashi, Amy (16 January 2011). "Japan's erotic onsen offerings losing steam but still rise to occasion". The Tokyo Reporter. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  22. ^ De Mente, Boyé Lafayette (15 November 2006). "Chapter 8: Love Hotels & Massage Parlors". Sex and the Japanese: The Sensual Side of Japan. Rutland, Vermont, USA: Tuttle Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8048-3826-9. LCCN 2009417728. OCLC 71239207.
  23. ^ a b 素股. Daijisen (in Japanese). Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  24. ^ "素股". Jisho. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  25. ^ Constantine, Peter. Japan's Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan's Erotic Subcultures. Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1993, p. 75. ISBN 978-4-900737-00-6.
  26. ^ Ministry of Justice (Hōmushō), Materials Concerning Prostitution and Its Control in Japan. Tokyo: Ministry of Justice, 1957, p. 32. OCLC no. 19432229. Cited in Sanders, Holly. "Indentured Servitude and the Abolition of Prostitution in Postwar Japan" Archived 2011-11-21 at the Wayback Machine. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University, 2006, p. 41.

Further reading

  • Allison, Anne (1994). Nightwork: sexuality, pleasure, and corporate masculinity in a Tokyo hostess club. University of Chicago Press. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-0-226-01487-6.
  • Bornoff, Nicholas, Pink Samurai: Love, Marriage, and Sex in Contemporary Japan, New York: Pocket Books, 1991, ISBN 0-671-74265-5
  • Enz, Lorenzo Enzo. "Pink Salons in Tokyo Japan." My Sexpedition. N.p., 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 30 July 2017.
  • Hill, Jane H.; Mistry, P. J.; Campbell, Lyle, eds. (1998). The Life of language: papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright. Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs. Vol. 108. Walter de Gruyter. p. 127. ISBN 978-3-11-015633-1.
  • Hosoda, Naomi Bakan. The International Division of Labour and the Commodification of Female Sexuality: The Case of Filipino Women in the Japanese Entertainment Industry. Dissertation, Ottawa, Ontario. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1994. Web. 21 July 2017.
  • Kempadoo, Kamala; Doezema, Jo, eds. (1998). Global sex workers: rights, resistance, and redefinition. Routledge. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-415-91828-2.
  • Rubin, Samantha. Jon Inc.: The Making of Japan's Salaried Men into Clients of High School Prostitutes. Dissertation, Rep. Alberta. ProQuest Dissertations, 2002. 20th Century Drama [ProQuest]. Web. 21 July 2017.
  • Sanders, Holly (2006). "Indentured Servitude and the Abolition of Prostitution in Postwar Japan" (PDF). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University. pp. 28, 41. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2011.
  • Schreiber, Mark. "In the Pink." The Japan Times. The Japan Times, 8 July 2001. Web. 30 July 2017.
  • Talmadge, Eric, Getting Wet: Adventures in the Japanese Bath, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2006, Chapter 9: "Dirty Waters", pp. 180–98, ISBN 978-4-7700-3020-7