From the City to the Countryside… The Background of the Rapid Increase in “Dekasegi Sex Workers” and Their Raw, Real-Life Voices
Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii delves into the reality of the "young homeless," young people who have lost their homes!
The world of adult entertainment is said to be polarizing in recent years. While the women with good looks earn high incomes, those with disabilities or illnesses who cannot find decent jobs are forced to sell their bodies for surprisingly low prices.
These latter women are sometimes referred to as “bottom-of-the-barrel sex workers,” meaning that they have fallen to the bottom of society. Nevertheless, for these women, the sex industry is one of the few “last safety nets” that accepts them.
Do you know that these girls have now fallen from the bottom and are supporting the local sex industry as “dekasegi sex workers”? Like traveling entertainers, these “dekasegi sex workers” live their lives wandering from one brothel to another all over the country.
Many local entertainment districts are said to be impossible to survive without dekasegi sex workers. In other words, dekasegi sex workers are the backbone of the industry.
We would like to focus on the ecology of dekasegi sex workers who have fallen from the bottom, in two parts.
80% of the women are from outside the prefecture
Dogo Hot Springs in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, is considered one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan. At the same time, however, it is also known as a tourist entertainment district, and is famous for the “Dogo Health Building,” where many health clubs are located.
In Matsuyama City alone, there are more than 70 brothels, both store and non-store, and if 15 people work at each brothel, there are more than 1,000 sex workers at any given time.
Supporting these brothels are migrant sex workers who come from all over Japan. When we interviewed five stores in this area, we found that 90% of the women enrolled were from outside the city, and 80% of them were from outside the prefecture. They came from a wide range of regions, from Hokkaido to Kyushu.
The manager of one of the delivery health clubs said, “We have more than a dozen girls.
For the past 10 years, more than half of the girls have been migrant workers. I don’t think I could do without them.
The most common length of stay is from a few months to a year. There are also many girls who work here for three months only from the beginning. After they leave our company, they usually go to other prefectures instead of working in the city.
Most of these dekasegi sex workers are said to be wandering around the country with carry-on cases and hand luggage. They include many homeless girls who do not have a specific place to live, and they come here with multiple carry-on cases or large hand luggage in both hands.
Why are these girls drifting through the countryside as if they were homeless? To answer this question, it is first necessary to understand the structure of the sex industry in the city and how these women are being pushed out of the city and into the countryside.
It is said that about 350,000 women work in the sex industry in Japan. In a large city with many entertainment districts, it is obvious that the number of sex workers is quite large, and the competition is fierce.
As pointed out at the beginning of this article, the background to the polarization of the sex industry today is the current situation in which young people are leaving the sex industry, the number of sex workers is increasing due to the recession, the user base is aging, and sexual preferences are becoming more diverse. Women who can work at some high-class establishments can earn a high income, but otherwise they can only earn enough to make even self-support difficult due to the price competition.
To be more specific, inexpensive stores in Tokyo charge 6,000 to 8,000 yen per service, so women receive only around 4,000 yen. Even if you take three customers a day, you will earn 12,000 yen, and you will have to pay all expenses such as transportation and wardrobe costs. If he lived in Tokyo, with its high cost of living, he would barely be able to eat.
The Meaning of the “Newcomer” Mark
In such a harsh sex industry, women use the status of “newcomer” to gain as many customers as possible. A woman in her early twenties who works at three delivery health clubs in Tokyo says, “When I started working at a club, I was a rookie on the site at first.
When you start working at a store, you will be marked as a “rookie” on the website at first. The time it takes for the mark to appear varies from store to store, ranging from one month in Tokyo to three months in the provinces. Japanese customers like first-timers, so there is a high rate of nominating new girls, and the stores actively push them. Therefore, during the newcomer period, the number of nominations increases by about 30%.
The term “newcomer” in the sex industry does not necessarily mean a beginner in the sex industry. It is just that they are new to the store. However, male customers expect them to be beginners, and women act like them, so they get many nominations.
The woman continues.
If you work at a store for a certain period of time, you are no longer a ‘newbie. If that happens, there will be fewer customers. For the girls, the conditions become worse. So, as soon as her rookie period is over, she transfers to another store and tries to be treated as a rookie again.
That’s why I work three or four different stores; one store I’ve worked at for a long time and has a lot of regulars. The other two or three I work once a week, and when my rookie period is over, I move on to another store.
The reason for having several stores is that the customers feel fresher with a girl who works only once a week than with a girl who works six shifts a week. The same new girl who comes in only once a week will attract more nominations than the girl who comes in only once a week. That’s why they hang out at various stores and promote their amateur image at each one.”
If you are a popular girl, it is probably more convenient for you to keep the number one position at a particular store. However, if she is not at the top of the rankings, it is better to work at various stores as a newcomer in order to attract customers. Working at several stores once a week is better than working a shift every day, because it shows customers that you are a newcomer.
In addition to this, sex workers also need to know how to avoid male customers who demand sexual intercourse and how to avoid trouble between women. As you can see, even women working in the city are trying to survive in this tough industry by any means possible. But, on the contrary, to make it as a sex worker in the city, such a way of carrying oneself is necessary.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, women with good looks and dexterity may be able to do so, but if they have few appealing points in their appearance, or if they have mental illness or disabilities, it will be difficult for them to change from one establishment to another, act as an amateur to serve customers, and earn a reasonable income. They would also be more likely to get into trouble.
These women will drop out of the fierce competition in the city and move to areas with less competition. The first step to becoming a “dekasegi sex worker” is to go to a local entertainment district.
In Part 2, I will show you the specific process by which these women left the competition in the city in order to give you a concrete image of the process.
Interview and text： Kota Ishii
Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Kichibu" no Ie - Wagakko wo Kajiru Oyasato Tachi" ("The House of 'Demons' - Parents Who Kill Their Children"), "43 Kichibu no Kakurai" ("43 Killing Intent - The Depths of the Kawasaki Junior High School Student Murder Case"), "Rental Child," "Kinship Murder" and "Social Map of Disparity and Division.