Prostitution, that is. In Japan.
Well…yes and no. Such a typically Japanese answer, meaning one that begs clarification, especially for the individuals who have asked this question upon my moving to Tokyo.
Ok, here’s the breakdown:
If you are one of the few houses that were granted a special certificate from the government waaay back when (serious generations ago), then you are legal to offer coitus, which is the one act that is deemed illegal in Japan. No new certificates have been issued since said way back when and these establishments are serious family businesses. Even people who have prominent and demanding careers will maintain the family business (oh the ¥ value); for example, the individual conducting obligatory new prostitute interviews at night might very well be an accomplished engineer/researcher/doctor by day.
If you are not fortunate enough to have one of the carte blanche certificates then your employees are legally allowed to provide any service other than coitus…which is a considerable number of acts and scenarios.
How strictly is the law enforced?
Depends on the establishment, who owns it, location, what ties they have to the Yakuza and where those ties fall on the hierarchy. Suffice it to say many a blind eye is turned.
And the available channels for service is pretty astonishing: soaplands (think waterproof mattresses and lube), fashion health massage parlors, health delivery services (seriously convenient), pinsaros (or pink salons, oral specialists), imekuras (image clubs where costumed fantasies are let loose) and so on…Tokyoites and tourists love their kink.
Speaking of tourists, here’s a recent article from The Tokyo Reporter about some complaints among Tokyo prostitutes.
It’s very interesting stuff, the multitude of articles and media coverage that arise when prostitution is mostly legal. I certainly appreciate the bit of informative light that gets shone on this facet of Japan…very different attitude and tone from the American news (or non-news, I should say) regarding this subject.