Exploring Why Owari Nagoya Leads the Nation in Health Clubs and Its Status as a Fuzoku Cultural Heritage | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Exploring Why Owari Nagoya Leads the Nation in Health Clubs and Its Status as a Fuzoku Cultural Heritage

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Currently, approximately 95 establishments are operating within Nagoya city.

In December ’23, a female employee in her thirties who worked for the Yokkaichi City Waterworks Bureau violated the ban on side jobs stipulated by the Local Public Service Law by working part-time at a sex industry establishment in Nagoya. As a result, she received a six-month suspension from work. In October last year, anonymous information was provided to the city, and upon confirming with the female employee, it was admitted that she had worked at a sex industry establishment.

According to the Yokkaichi City Waterworks Bureau, the female employee worked at two sex industry establishments in Nagoya from around September ’21 to October ’23, earning approximately 6 million yen in income. In an interview with the bureau, she stated, “I started the side job without much thought and used it for part of my living expenses.” The female employee resigned at her own request on December 15, ’23.

The reason this female employee went all the way from Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture to work in Nagoya was not just to avoid exposure. It shows that Nagoya is at the top level nationwide in terms of the number and variety of sex industry establishments, and it is also a place where one can earn money. As mentioned earlier, this female employee actually earned approximately 6 million yen over about two years through her side job.

In Nagoya, the quintessential representation of the city’s adult entertainment industry is the “store-type health club.” Known locally as “Owari Nagoya thrives on health clubs,” it has gained immense popularity, boasting the highest number of establishments in Japan.

Why are health clubs the flagship of Nagoya’s adult entertainment scene? The answer lies in the law. The reason for the proliferation of health clubs in Nagoya dates back to the enforcement of the New Entertainment Business Law on February 13, 1985. Under this law, health clubs were categorized as part of the adult entertainment industry (requiring only notification rather than permission), making it possible to operate simply by meeting specified conditions. As a result, vacant spaces that met these criteria were swiftly applied for, leading to a rapid increase in the number of health clubs. Aichi Prefecture did not impose ordinances restricting new openings, allowing health clubs to be established in various locations outside prohibited zones with minimal procedural hurdles.

In 1991, following the collapse of the bubble economy, expansive spaces in downtown areas like Nishiki 3-chome became available for new establishments. This led to the emergence of health clubs that featured luxurious interiors and unique characteristics. With increased exposure in magazines and other media, the concept of health clubs began to permeate among the general female population. Compared to soaplands, health clubs offered softer services, attracting many ordinary women to start working in the industry and significantly raising the level of service providers.

In September 1996, Aichi Prefecture enacted an ordinance completely prohibiting new openings of private room massages, including health clubs. Just before this ordinance took effect, there was a rush to open new establishments, pushing the number of health clubs in the prefecture to over 300. Since the peak in 1996, competition from other industries and economic downturns have caused a decline in the number of establishments. By 2012, there were fewer than 200 health clubs in Aichi Prefecture, and as of 2024, there are approximately 115 in the prefecture and about 95 in Nagoya City.

To patronize health clubs in Nagoya, patrons typically need to pay an “entrance fee” in addition to course fees and nomination fees. Entrance fees generally range around 2000 yen, although some clubs charge around 1000 yen or offer free entry. This entrance fee system has become a unique cultural practice in Nagoya, accepted as commonplace among local patrons, despite requiring slightly more than usual for ordinary experiences.

Nagoya stands out not only for its sheer number of health club establishments but also for the distinctiveness of each venue. Evolving uniquely, establishments like mat health clubs and activities such as role-playing and “petal rotation” still reflect the late Showa to early Heisei periods when store-type adult entertainment was predominant. This aspect contributes to Nagoya’s status as a unique and significant cultural heritage site in Japan’s adult entertainment industry.

In the paid edition of “FRIDAY GOLD,” various articles showcase leading mat health clubs in Nagoya, diverse health club groups, and unique venues offering activities like “petal rotation.”

In Nishiki 3-chome, “Health Club Paris” is a large-scale establishment representing “Nagoya health,” specializing in mat health services.
  • Interview and text Akira Ikoma

    His pen name is Master Ikoma. He is the former editor-in-chief of the sex industry magazine "Ore no Tabi" series. With a motto of thorough on-the-spot reporting, he has completely explored all the entertainment districts in Japan. As a freelance editorial reporter, he continues "Ore no Tabi" through articles in magazines and websites and his own SNS. He is the co-author of "A Modern History of Fuzoku" and "Reporto Nihon no Iikai Chizu" (co-author).

Photo Gallery2 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles