JAPANESE DRAG QUEENS, FETISH WRESTLING, MASKS, CUSTOM VAMPIRE FANGS: INSIDE DEPARTMENT H TOKYO ALTERNATIVE PARTY.
The DEPARTMENT H is not a club or discotheque. It’s a salon. Salon for minorities It’s also a party open for those who don’t like drinking or dancing. Almost all night places in Tokyo is either place for drinking or place for dancing. The Department H would seem to be the heart of Tokyo’s kink-scene; you’ll find fetishes you had never heard of or had long ago forgotten paraded through the audience or performed to promote another club or establishment across town.
Not for the faint of heart or easily offended; blood and live booty- licking might be on the menu, as are public nudity and touching between strangers. But don’t worry, if you like drinking or dancing, you can enjoy yourself.
You will touch a core of Japanese underground culture.
PHOTO BY: Said Karlsson(photographer)
Kanamara Matsuri Festival
There is no stronger celebration of the Japanese joystick than Kawasaki’s Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Iron Phallus). Despite smirks and giggles from Westerners, this is no Fantasy Fest: it’s an ancient tradition that serves as a celebration of (and prayer for) fertility, long marriages and healthy births, and a way to promote awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, most importantly HIV.
The story goes that in the 1600s, during Japan’s Edo period, local prostitutes would congregate at the Kanamara Shinto shrine in Kawasaki, where they’d pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. A more fantastic tale lies in the fabled “vagina dentata,” or toothed vagina, which supposedly castrated several poor young men on their wedding nights. The woman cursed with the toothed vagina (most likely a metaphor for syphilis, which was common then) went to see a blacksmith, who forged her an iron dildo in order to break the teeth of her inner demon, thus protecting the penis of her future suitor. The Kanamara shrine is dedicated to the blacksmith, and over the centuries sex workers have paid pilgrimage to the shrine to seek its powers of protection.
While this festival has a deeper meaning, it’s still a penis festival—and you won’t be disappointed if that’s what you came to see (though they won’t be the real deal). There are penis hats, penis puppets, penis floats, penis costumes and penis lollipops, and since nobody here shies away from sex or the sex organs, you’ll see elderly Japanese alongside young couples seeking cures for impotence and infertility. Penis icons are not in short supply, with all shapes and sizes made from iron, wood and inflatable plastic. Even the most modest among us will barely blush by the end of it all. It may be hard for outsiders to understand why the Japanese, a typically reserved people, go all out with the male sexual organ on this day, but as far as self-expression goes, this culture is all about one big release as opposed to lots of little ones.
The Saturday evening prior to the festival, rice treats in the shape of the yin and yang are grilled for everyone to eat. Yin represents the traditional analog of female energy, while yang represents the male. At 11am the next morning, a great bonfire is lit and the festival officially begins. After a short Shinto ceremony, dried sardines and Japanese sake are served for good fortune. At around noon, the omikoshi, a giant pink penis altar, is carried toward the Kanamara shrine just before the parade.
The bulk of Kanamara Matsuri is the afternoon parade (starting roughly at 1pm) through the nearby streets, where three huge altars with erect idols are carried by groups of worshippers dressed in pink. The footpaths are full of people who crowd around these mobile temples as the bearers chant, sing, shout and sway in worship of the yang. The vibe is that of a fun street party. Both men and women dress in women’s kimonos, and it’s not uncommon to see grandmothers licking penis-shaped lollipops. There’s an anatomically correct radish-carving contest and large wooden penises that you can mount (and pray the pictures don’t end up on the Internet). As businesslike as the culture appears at times, the Japanese have an amazing ability to laugh at themselves. As the day winds down, contestants in the radish-carving competition and participants in the costume parade are judged, followed by a feast. Proceeds from the event go toward HIV research.
While you may find a bigger phallus (15-feet long and 600 pounds) at the Hōnen Matsuri in Komaki (Penis Fertility Festival) or confuse this with the Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Man Festival), we recommend planning a visit to this forward-thinking Shinto celebration.
Salaries going down for Japan’s AV actresses
For years, young women in Japan seeking quick cash could find employment in one of Japan’s “naked” industries in times of need.
In special series on women earning money through somewhat dubious means, Spa! (Apr. 8-15) says that in spite of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts deflation within illicit professions — a fuzoku sex worker or adult video (AV) actress, for example — is not abating.
The magazine probes the porn industry.
“Salaries for actresses have dropped as far as possible,” says an employee at an AV production company in the Kanto area. “Sales are down and actress applications are up. It is a buyer’s market. Compared to just a few years ago, salaries are now 50 percent less.”
The insider says that low-end actresses are receiving as little as 20,000 yen per shoot. Top performers can garner one million yen, but that figure is 500,000 yen less than that of 2009.
For Kansai, the situation is particularly bleak for “underground” productions, in which genitalia is not censored. Whereas an actress could earn 600,000 yen in such a film five years ago, nowadays the figure has dropped to 50,000 yen.
An AV employee in Kansai describes how it has happened. “I wouldn’t say it is cheating, but there are a lot of cases where women will give their consent to that amount of money,” says the employee, referring to the 50,000-yen figure. “We just won’t mention that the particular film will not include an obfuscating mosaic.”
Certainly, this era’s low wages will go down in history, says Spa!, with the flood of applicants being the culprit. The aforementioned Kanto employee says that he’ll get more than 20 girls each month arriving at his office for an interview.
But why are women so keen now to “spread their legs” for the industry?
“AV and sexy actresses are now being thrust into the public view as idols,” says a 15 year AV veteran. “So, there’s no shortage of women looking to enter the business.”
Plus, it can be an enjoyable way to earn a buck.
“It’s tough to make 30,000 yen a day in the fuzoku biz,” the writer says. (K.N.)
Source: “Kansai AV joyu gyara hikaku,” Spa! / The Tokyo Reporter
Sex expert expresses concern about Japan’s lolicon fetish
Shukan Asahi Mar. 14
In the January 31 issue of Shukan Asahi, Minori Kitahara expressed concern over the popularity of a male masturbation aid that attempts to simulate the feeling of sex with an underage girl.
Those worries were only amplified when Kitahara, a 43-year-old authoress of numerous books on gender and sexuality, discovered that a product called Innocent Younger Sister topped the Amazon.co.jp sales charts in the Adult Goods category for 2013.
(In fact, a similar “masturbation hole,” as the products are referred, named Seven Teen Bordeaux ranked number three.)
“An acquaintance of mine working in the adult goods trade says that Innocent Younger Sister utilizes special materials,” she writes in the March 14 issue of Shukan Asahi. “As you use it more and more, the feel and texture will change. Men describe this by saying that it is ‘growing.’ So they can make it ‘grow’ as they like.”
Kitahara then checked the Internet, which contains thousands of reviews of such products.
“When I was a student I purchased ‘disposable holes,’” said one review. “I was really impressed with the lack of trouble involved. It was very easy, but at the same time I felt lonely.”
That is, until he started using Innocent Younger Sister. The user claims that by its fifth use, the hole was indeed “growing,” just as promised.
“This is a happy feeling that I had never experienced with a disposable toy,” said the reviewer. “I really want to appreciate it.”
(The top review on Amazon.co.jp for Innocent Younger Sister jokes that the product is the reason for Japan’s declining birthrate.)
For Kitahara, who was seen on stage earlier this month at the Pink Tokyo adult goods show discussing vibrators, the large number of similar comments and the popularity of Innocent Younger Sister are reasons for anxiety.
“I don’t think it is wrong to have that kind of desire,” she says. “However, as a woman now, and previously a girl, I feel strange living in a society where the lolicon fetish represents the majority.” (Though it should be pointed out that basing such an assessment on the sales of adult goods might be a tad dubious.)
She continues by asking: Is the lolicon fetish specifically a problem with Japanese men? Is it part of Japanese culture? Or simply a matter of natural sexual desire?
In any case, says Kitahara, the situation is becoming more serious. “Is this now not a sickness?” (A.T.)
Source: “Nihon no otoko no ‘rorikon ha mohaya yamai de ha?” Shukan Asahi
Source* The Tokyo Reporter
Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.
Oiran (花魁) were high-class courtesans in Japan. The word “oiran” consists of two kanji, 花 meaning “flower”, and 魁 meaning “leader” or “first.” Cultural aspects of oiran traditions continue to be preserved to this day.
The oiran arose in the Edo period, 1600 – 1868. At this time, laws were passed restricting brothels to walled districts set some distance from the city center. In the major cities these were the Shimabara in Kyoto, the Shimmachi in Osaka, and in Edo (present-day Tokyo), the Yoshiwara. These rapidly grew into large, self-contained “Pleasure Quarters” offering all manner of entertainments. Within, a courtesan’s birth rank held no distinction but there arose a strict hierarchy according to beauty, character, educational attainments and artistic skills. Among the oiran, the tayū (太夫 or 大夫,tayū?) was considered the highest rank of courtesan or prostitute, and were considered suitable for the daimyo. Only the wealthiest and highest ranking could hope to patronize them.
To entertain their clients, oiran practiced the arts of dance, music, poetry and calligraphy, and an educated wit was considered essential to sophisticated conversation.
The isolation within the closed districts resulted in the oiran becoming highly ritualized in many ways and increasingly removed from the changing society. Strict etiquette ruled the standards of appropriate behavior. Their speech preserved the formal court standards rather than the common language. A casual visitor would not be accepted; their clients would summon them with a formal invitation, and the oiran would pass through the streets in a formal procession with a retinue of servants. The costumes worn became more and more ornate and complex, culminating in a style with eight or more pins and combs in the hair, and many prescribed layers of highly ornamented garments derived from those of the earliest oiran from the early Edo period. Similarly, the entertainments offered also were derived from those of the original oiran generations before. Ultimately, the culture of the tayu grew increasingly rarefied and remote from everyday life, and their clients dwindled.
The rise of the geisha ended the era of the oiran. Geisha practiced the common entertainments enjoyed by the people of that time, and were much more accessible to the casual visitor. Their popularity grew rapidly and eclipsed that of the oiran. The last recorded oiran was in 1761. The few remaining women still currently practicing the arts of the oiran (without the sexual aspect) do so as a preservation of cultural heritage rather than as a profession or lifestyle.
Masturbation relay to highlight tenth AIDS fundraiser for Tokyo porn channel
TOKYO (TR) – In its typically provocative style, adult satellite channel Paradise TV will this weekend feature a masturbation relay race during the tenth incarnation of its two-day AIDS fund drive.
The channel, which specializes in wacky porn programming, will hold its “24-Hour TV: Eroticism Saves the Earth” annual fund drive on Saturday and Sunday to raise money and awareness to assist in reducing the spread of AIDS.
As in past years, the channel will welcome subscribers to its studios, located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, to participate in various erotic events with AV (adult video) actresses and, hopefully, donate to the drive’s coffers.
The chance for subscribers to squeeze the bare breasts of AV starlets is usually the drive’s centerpiece — last year idol trio Marshmallow 3D dropped their tops — and this year 10 girls, including Momo Fukuda, who earlier this year starred in “Non-nude Erotica at a Soapland,” will bare their chests for a suggested minimum contribution of 1,000 yen.
However, the “Masturbation Ekiden” (an ekiden is a type of long-distance running event) that takes place on Sunday will certainly garner its share of attention. Extending between the resort town of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture and Tokyo, the event will feature a pair of teams of two adult video (AV) actresses, including the popular Kohaku Uta.
A representative of each squad, dressed in a track suit, will move by bus from Hakone and self-pleasure herself as her partner offers encouragement and entertains viewers via phone-sex sessions in the Shinjuku studios. A massage treatment awaits the winner, and a final public masturbation display will be the fate of the second-place finisher.
Panty auction in 2011
Last year, a sluttiest woman contest tested the stamina of four topless actresses by determining who could gyrate her hips the most times during simulated sex sessions, and auctions of used panties, removed by AV actresses from behind a screen (and sometimes seasoned by a few generous crotch rubs), also contributed to the cause. Expect similar erotic activities this weekend.
Though it might require considerable imagination, there is a serious point to be found within this wackiness: AIDS continues to be a worsening problem in Japan.
“We’ve been using the theme ‘Stop AIDS’ as our theme for ten years, but unfortunately there has been an increase in AIDS patients and HIV carriers,” says Paradise TV president Tsuyoshi Shiba.
In May, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported that last year the number of new AIDS cases reached 473 — a record high — while 1,056 people were diagnosed with HIV, a drop from 2010 but still the fourth highest figure since 1984, when the government first began compiling data.
Experts say that proper condom usage is a key to reducing the spread of HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, and over the last decade and a half, the general trend of reported HIV infections and AIDS cases in Japan has been that of a steady increase.
Donations to “Eroticism Saves the Earth” average just under two million yen, a number that Paradise expects to match this year, and are earmarked for the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention.
“While there is a sense of achievement for having reached our tenth year, we have stronger notion that this is another starting point,” says Shiba.
Source: The Tokyo Reporter
Introducing Japan’s ‘Yaramiso’ man
A study conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, indicates that the number of unmarried men between the age of 30 and 24 in Japan has risen by 10 percent between 1995 and 2010.
A separate study from two years ago, this time by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, indicates that one in four single men in the same age group is a virgin — a figure that has held steady for the past 15 years.
Weekly Playboy (Apr. 7) concludes that the uptick in single men coinciding with the steady rate of virginity means more men still have their cherry intact beyond their 29th birthday than before.
The magazine invokes the term yaramiso — a combination of yarazu (to not have sex) and misoji (a person in their 30s) — to describe the condition, one that an expert says is hard to change.
“Frankly, it is difficult for a yaramiso to get a girlfriend,” says Rajio Furuta, a self-described analyst of the market for those seeking marriage partners.
The analyst says that many women of the yaramiso generation will have already gotten married. Further, matchmaking parties apply strict age limits for entry.
“The chance to meet a partner drops considerably,” says Furuta.
Another complication is that these types of guys are just not popular.
“In meeting women, the desirable guys are those who understand women through their past experiences with women,” says Furuta.
Certainly, for some yaramiso men it could be a matter of waiting for that special someone as hitting a fuzoku parlor is very simple for those just looking for first-time action.
In any case, Weekly Playboy lists seven characteristics of the “yaramiso syndrome” for its readers:
1. Those around you laugh when you speak of your ideal woman.
2. You cannot forget a woman from the past.
3. You pay attention to blogs or radio programs that provide a positive outlook on virginity.
4. You find comfort in news on soshoku danshi, or herbivorous men.
5. When you look at a woman you think she is looking through you.
6. There are no single women at your place of work.
7. You are satisfied in being single.
With each passing year, the chances that a yaramiso man will lose his virginity steadily decrease, says Weekly Playboy, which suggests to its readership: Strike while the iron is hot! (A.T.)
Source: “Kyuzochu suru ‘ankoku no yaramiso (yarazu ni misoji)’ kara dasshutsu shita otoko tachi ni (gyaku ni) manabu!!!” Weekly Playboy (Apr. 7, page 42) – The Japan Reporter.
Note by : Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.