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Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an official state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic on April 7, the nation's major cities have been in the eye of the storm.


In Tokyo, major department stores have closed down, nightlife venues are facing dire times and many restaurants are offering "bento" takeaway lunchboxes as alternatives to drinking and snacking at after-work izakaya bars.


But what does that mean for the country's ever-thriving adult services industry?



In Tokyo, the adult entertainment industry is very much built around immediate, face-to-face convenience.


Stressed salarymen can pop into a hostess club to chat with a young woman - for a fee - or rent a 40-minute booth in a pinsaro, or oral sex bar, for around 6,000 yen.


Unlike other countries where stricter measures have been enforced, the Japanese government has requested, not told, many businesses to close.


This has left sex workers and adult-industry business owners in a "grey zone": Do they stay open and try to maintain clients while risking their health? Or shut entirely and face losses?


"We've been making sure patrons wash and sanitise their hands and clothes before entering the venue," says Britney Jane, an American in her 20s who has lived in Japan for five years and works at an S&M club in Osaka.


"This process is repeated each time they step outside. I feel if I'm going to get sick, it's more likely going to be from when I'm on a train or in the supermarket."


The nation's relatively lenient measures on work and domestic travel appear to have led to a general feeling of complacency.


"The virus was confirmed in a person working in my local supermarket, but even then, I am not scared," Jane says. "Japan seems to be one of the countries doing the least, and I guess that makes me feel like it's less scary. I just feel worried for the elderly because Japan has so many of them."


A branch of Isomaru Suisan, one of Tokyos biggest izakaya chains. Many restaurants are offering alternatives to after-work drinking and eating at such establishments. 


With the Olympics officially postponed, and Covid-19 cases steadily growing, many - including Tokyo's governor, Yuriko Koike - are calling on the Abe government to enforce tougher restrictions on densely populated large cities.


In the meantime, at time of writing, much of the nation's nightlife districts and their izakayas remain open, as small-business owners - who make up the backbone of Japan's nightlife sector - fear the economic risks of a coronavirus lockdown may outweigh the health risks of staying open.


"Some people are losing their jobs, businesses are going bankrupt," says the owner of the bar where Jane works, who declined to give a name. "We're either going to die from coronavirus or we're going to die economically."


While people working in adult services were previously exempted from income compensation, the government announced on April 7 that they would be eligible. Many, however, are still working.


Yu, 27, from Tokyo, has a friend working at a pinsaro in the city. Most pinsaro comprises a single open room with sectioned-off booths, where clients are serviced by a rotating roster of hosts.


Yu says that clients are given nothing more than a wet towelette with which to clean their genitals before the service starts.


"My friend told me she is trying to cut her days back," she says. "She's in the upper echelon of girls in the bar, so she has regular clients and the freedom to do that."


Some of the newer girls, or girls who moved to Tokyo to make money, aren't so lucky and have little choice in terms of who they serve.


"Many of those girls who move to Tokyo from elsewhere live in a flat provided by the owner of the bar, which means they do not have a lot of autonomy," Yu says, adding that their bosses want these more vulnerable girls to work as much as possible.


Japanese people are still gathering at bars despite government social distancing recommendations.


The outbreak has also had an effect on the dating scene.


"On [dating apps] Tinder and Bumble the users are far more active - I'm getting a lot more swipes," Yu says. "They're more local than they've ever been - mainly locals and foreign people who have been living in Japan for a long time."


Japan has long had a growing number of singles, especially in the cities.


Long working hours, high costs of living and easily accessible adult services that offer to fulfil romantic and sexual desires mean that for many younger and middle-aged people living in Japan, singledom is the only, and sometimes even desired, option.


Local media predicts that if the rate of solo living continues, half the Japanese population will be single by 2035. Now, around one-quarter of Japanese households are single-occupant, outnumbering all other types.


Ben, a 28-year-old gay man from Australia who has been living in Tokyo for almost seven years, is an avid user of dating sites Grindr, Tinder and 9monsters (known as 9mon) and used to meet up with people once or twice a week.


Since the outbreak, however, he says activity on the apps has become "really bizarre".


"It's as if we stepped into an alternative world," he says. "Grindr pre-virus used to be restrictive in the number of profiles you could see. Since about mid-March, they've extended it to 300, which only happened before if you paid extra - now it's free. So you can connect with way more people."


Ben has noticed Tinder become more active too. "People from all over the world are showing up on my swiping selections," he says. "It seems as if everyone is bored and has bought [premium access account] Tinder Gold to see all the cuties in Japan."


The Japanese government is currently asking the public to reduce their human contact by 70 to 80 per cent, but this request isn't being taken too seriously.


On April 11, Abe observed in a task force meeting that the number of commuters had not yet dropped sufficiently.


Ben says there is still an air of carefreeness to the Japanese dating community too.


"9mon is mostly used by queer Japanese men. There's a part of the app where you can post on a bulletin board - like an 'In Search Of' section. It seems not much has changed, as people still want to meet to hook up, have lunch or go to karaoke. Despite the self-quarantining messages, it seems people still want to go out and connect."


Some people have experienced a shift in perspective, however. Joe, a 32-year-old ex-pat Londoner living in Tokyo, used to go on one or two dates a month until recently.


"I don't feel like going to bars or restaurants full stop - let alone with a date," he says. "I'm still keen to meet new people somehow, but my mood has changed towards dating."


Matters of the heart do not feel important at all right now, he says.


"I think I'd rather spend my time nurturing the relationships I have with my friends already. With the virus getting worse, I feel like my priorities are naturally sorting themselves, and I guess dating isn't one of them."


Source: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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Japans sex industry stays open amid pandemic

Tap "WorldWire" above  to follow us

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an official state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic on April 7, the nation's major cities have been in the eye of the storm.


In Tokyo, major department stores have closed down, nightlife venues are facing dire times and many restaurants are offering "bento" takeaway lunchboxes as alternatives to drinking and snacking at after-work izakaya bars.


But what does that mean for the country's ever-thriving adult services industry?



In Tokyo, the adult entertainment industry is very much built around immediate, face-to-face convenience.


Stressed salarymen can pop into a hostess club to chat with a young woman - for a fee - or rent a 40-minute booth in a pinsaro, or oral sex bar, for around 6,000 yen.


Unlike other countries where stricter measures have been enforced, the Japanese government has requested, not told, many businesses to close.


This has left sex workers and adult-industry business owners in a "grey zone": Do they stay open and try to maintain clients while risking their health? Or shut entirely and face losses?


"We've been making sure patrons wash and sanitise their hands and clothes before entering the venue," says Britney Jane, an American in her 20s who has lived in Japan for five years and works at an S&M club in Osaka.


"This process is repeated each time they step outside. I feel if I'm going to get sick, it's more likely going to be from when I'm on a train or in the supermarket."


The nation's relatively lenient measures on work and domestic travel appear to have led to a general feeling of complacency.


"The virus was confirmed in a person working in my local supermarket, but even then, I am not scared," Jane says. "Japan seems to be one of the countries doing the least, and I guess that makes me feel like it's less scary. I just feel worried for the elderly because Japan has so many of them."


A branch of Isomaru Suisan, one of Tokyos biggest izakaya chains. Many restaurants are offering alternatives to after-work drinking and eating at such establishments. 


With the Olympics officially postponed, and Covid-19 cases steadily growing, many - including Tokyo's governor, Yuriko Koike - are calling on the Abe government to enforce tougher restrictions on densely populated large cities.


In the meantime, at time of writing, much of the nation's nightlife districts and their izakayas remain open, as small-business owners - who make up the backbone of Japan's nightlife sector - fear the economic risks of a coronavirus lockdown may outweigh the health risks of staying open.


"Some people are losing their jobs, businesses are going bankrupt," says the owner of the bar where Jane works, who declined to give a name. "We're either going to die from coronavirus or we're going to die economically."


While people working in adult services were previously exempted from income compensation, the government announced on April 7 that they would be eligible. Many, however, are still working.


Yu, 27, from Tokyo, has a friend working at a pinsaro in the city. Most pinsaro comprises a single open room with sectioned-off booths, where clients are serviced by a rotating roster of hosts.


Yu says that clients are given nothing more than a wet towelette with which to clean their genitals before the service starts.


"My friend told me she is trying to cut her days back," she says. "She's in the upper echelon of girls in the bar, so she has regular clients and the freedom to do that."


Some of the newer girls, or girls who moved to Tokyo to make money, aren't so lucky and have little choice in terms of who they serve.


"Many of those girls who move to Tokyo from elsewhere live in a flat provided by the owner of the bar, which means they do not have a lot of autonomy," Yu says, adding that their bosses want these more vulnerable girls to work as much as possible.


Japanese people are still gathering at bars despite government social distancing recommendations.


The outbreak has also had an effect on the dating scene.


"On [dating apps] Tinder and Bumble the users are far more active - I'm getting a lot more swipes," Yu says. "They're more local than they've ever been - mainly locals and foreign people who have been living in Japan for a long time."


Japan has long had a growing number of singles, especially in the cities.


Long working hours, high costs of living and easily accessible adult services that offer to fulfil romantic and sexual desires mean that for many younger and middle-aged people living in Japan, singledom is the only, and sometimes even desired, option.


Local media predicts that if the rate of solo living continues, half the Japanese population will be single by 2035. Now, around one-quarter of Japanese households are single-occupant, outnumbering all other types.


Ben, a 28-year-old gay man from Australia who has been living in Tokyo for almost seven years, is an avid user of dating sites Grindr, Tinder and 9monsters (known as 9mon) and used to meet up with people once or twice a week.


Since the outbreak, however, he says activity on the apps has become "really bizarre".


"It's as if we stepped into an alternative world," he says. "Grindr pre-virus used to be restrictive in the number of profiles you could see. Since about mid-March, they've extended it to 300, which only happened before if you paid extra - now it's free. So you can connect with way more people."


Ben has noticed Tinder become more active too. "People from all over the world are showing up on my swiping selections," he says. "It seems as if everyone is bored and has bought [premium access account] Tinder Gold to see all the cuties in Japan."


The Japanese government is currently asking the public to reduce their human contact by 70 to 80 per cent, but this request isn't being taken too seriously.


On April 11, Abe observed in a task force meeting that the number of commuters had not yet dropped sufficiently.


Ben says there is still an air of carefreeness to the Japanese dating community too.


"9mon is mostly used by queer Japanese men. There's a part of the app where you can post on a bulletin board - like an 'In Search Of' section. It seems not much has changed, as people still want to meet to hook up, have lunch or go to karaoke. Despite the self-quarantining messages, it seems people still want to go out and connect."


Some people have experienced a shift in perspective, however. Joe, a 32-year-old ex-pat Londoner living in Tokyo, used to go on one or two dates a month until recently.


"I don't feel like going to bars or restaurants full stop - let alone with a date," he says. "I'm still keen to meet new people somehow, but my mood has changed towards dating."


Matters of the heart do not feel important at all right now, he says.


"I think I'd rather spend my time nurturing the relationships I have with my friends already. With the virus getting worse, I feel like my priorities are naturally sorting themselves, and I guess dating isn't one of them."


Source: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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