Gender in Japan: Fast money for girls

Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7:36 PM
When walking along the street anyone finds some magazine stand with something like "Take for Free" written on it, it is natural to take a glance, especially when the covers have an eye-catching design featuring something like cute looking girls.

Last weekend I was walking near the Tôji temple in Kyoto when I found one of these stands. Without paying much attention, I took a couple of magazines out of curiosity, since some of their names (like "Collon") sounded just funny. When I took a few steps away I noticed the "18" symbol in the cover. "That's strange..." I thought, "Wait, porn for free in the street!?" that's impossible...

Could you guess what are they about with just a glance?

Out of prudence I waited to get home to take a look (they were wrapped with plastic) to see what the hell were they about, and I finally understood. One of the magazines stated "Superwork-magazine Collon for girls" as a clue. Then, a quick look was enough to know that the content of these magazines (almost the same in both) was mainly about job offers in all kind of night clubs ranging from waitresses to almost prostitution, but mainly focusing to the hostess world as depicted in the descriptions below.

Job offer: "kyabakura", "delivery health" or "SM clubs" among others

Behind this bunch of euphemistic terms hides (even though it is more than evident) a whole world of adult entertainment and sex industry similar to the one depicted in the "The Great Happiness Space" documentary, but on the girls side. All the advertisements in these publications highlight the ease to earn lots of money in short periods of time, and even provide some kind of "warranty" that the job doesn't imply further obligations to their employees than those strictly necessary.

safety and salary warranties

Besides of the nature of these jobs, what made me think the most was the easy access to this kind of publication. I found these copies in a quiet street in Kyoto, but then I saw more in some different places, among which was a small bookshop near to the Gaidai campus. This may lead to think how many young women and students choose this way to cover their expenses and to what extent is this good for the society.

A parallel can be drawn between hostess clubs and pachinko parlors. Even though the latter are more numerous, both have an important presence in adult entertainment in Japan and both challenge the legal bounds, since gambling as well as prostitution are forbidden by law. Beyond the moral discussion that this subject can lead to, I think that the most important thing to be taken into account is the position that Japanese society and its main powers adopt towards this tendency in the entertainment world. Does it help people (workers and costumers) to fulfill their needs and hopes, or rather make them get inside a spyral of dispair as it was depicted in the aforementioned documentary? This certainly needs lots of discussion that a single blog post can't provide...


  1. R. A. Stern Says:

    I agree it is a discussion that a blog is perhaps not suited to tackle. Even though the publications are so close to the university, I don't get the feeling female students would "need" to do this kind of work to cover expenses. All of my female friends live at home and their parents pay for school, housing, food and transportation - they work part-time jobs for a little extra spending cash though.

  2. Great topic for this week's theme of gender in Japan. I don't think a single post can tackle this or any subject really - it is part of a larger dialogue and you do us a great service by bringing it up for consideration.

    I wonder if there are really more pachinko parlors than mizu shobai shops...

    Check out the following post by a former Japanese student on the subject. Her thesis seems to be "Genarally, this job doesn't have a positive image because people think that it is a kind of prostitution. However, the image is changing in Japan, especially among the young. Many girls work or want to work as Kyabajyoo." Lots of money can be made in a short amount of time...

    I'd like to read more comments by Japanese and international students on this subject.

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