With the tightening of police crackdowns and the emergence of nuisance YouTubers, the girls are gradually disappearing from the area around Okubo Park in Kabukicho. Where are these girls headed next after they have moved away from “koiken” (street prostitution)? One of them is believed to be the “encounter cafes” that have existed in Kabukicho for a long time.
Dating cafes, as the name suggests, are services that provide “encounters. Female customers who enter a private room can enjoy free snacks, manga, drinks, Wi-Fi, hair irons, and other amenities for a comfortable stay. Male customers pay several thousand yen each for an admission fee and an entrance fee, and then observe female customers through a magic mirror while looking at their profiles. If they find someone they like, they tell the clerk, meet them, and negotiate a date.
Although it may seem a bit slower than dating, this type of coffee shop is now quite popular. Tetsuya (pseudonym, 33), a heavy user, says, “The last day of the host club (the last day of the month) is the last day of the month.”
Tetsuya (pseudonym, 33), a heavy user of the cafe, says, “The best time to go there is before the last day of the month when host clubs close. Cute girls will give me dates at low prices. If they are really cheap, you can get physical with them for 5,000 yen. The service may not be as good, though (laughs).”
Why go to the trouble of going to a dating cafe instead of a stand-up comic? Tetsuya continues.
There is really no law in the dating scene. Many women and men are dangerous. At a dating cafe, the women have to show their IDs, and the staff will ban any unsafe girls from the cafe. It’s like paying a few thousand yen for admission and playing it safe.
From the women’s point of view, the dating cafes also have many advantages.
When I’m really strapped for cash, I go to a coffee shop and have a devil’s roll.
Haruka (pseudonym, 21), a vocational student, says, “I usually work as a waitress.
I usually work at a deli, but there are days when I don’t have much time. I go to coffee shops to earn money. It’s quick and easy because I don’t have to go to an interview or go through any hassle, and I can negotiate with men right away.
Some of the coffee shops have an unusual system. They are called gyakunan cafes.
Here, women observe men through a magic mirror and choose men they want to date. The advantage for the women is that they can choose their partners in advance. On the men’s side, there are many young customers, perhaps because of the “gyaku-nan” concept. The women here are completely free of charge, while the men have to pay.
Takumi (pseudonym, 22), a frequent visitor to Gyakunan Cafes, says, “It’s more than a regular dating café.
I think there are more amateurish girls here than at regular dating cafes. There are girls who like sex and are lucky to get paid for it. So, negotiations are often cheaper than at a koiken or a regular dating cafe.
When the author went undercover at a breech-loading cafe, she found that the going rate for a sexual encounter was 10,000 to 15,000 yen. Since it is said that 15,000 to 20,000 yen is the market price for a sexual relationship, it certainly seems a bit cheaper.
Dating cafes have existed in Kabukicho and other downtown areas for a long time, and even today, dozens of people visit these cafes every day. As long as there is supply and demand, prostitution will not disappear.
Born in Tokyo in 2000. After attending an integrated school in Tokyo from elementary school to high school, he went on to Keio University, where he has been living in Kabukicho since he was 15 years old and has a wide range of personal connections. At university, he is studying the sociology of the downtown area, including Kabukicho. His book, ” Pien” to shakai” (“The Disease of ‘Pien’: Consumption and Approval of the SNS Generation”), is now on sale.
From theMarch17, 2023 issue of FRIDAY