Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Soaplands

Recently, during my ongoing and tireless research on various topics of great importance, I stumbled upon an article on the Internet about “soaplands,” a type of Japanese brothel where men can and do take baths with prostitutes. Now, before I go any further let me just say that I know what you’re thinking- Dave is totally planning a trip to Japan so he can take a bath with a Japanese prostitute. And while I do admit that that does sound pretty awesome on at least five or six different levels, it is simply not the case. For starters, I am generally opposed to the idea of paying for sex (at least with actually currency anyway). Jesus hates it and I can’t imagine those goodbyes getting any less awkward over time, so- for now anyway- I will continue living the whore-free lifestyle, boring as it might be. Also, the soaplands of Japan don’t let foreigners in anyway, so it was never really any option for me unfortunately.

Anyway, as the story goes the soaplands came into being as a way of getting around the not-so-strict prostitution laws of Japan. Japanese law defines prostitution as the commercial offering of genital penetration in exchange for money. This does not include anything that might take place within the confines of a “private agreement” between a man and a woman nor does it include sticking the donger in someone’s mouth or butt or anything else that people might do that might require them to have to take a bath at some point. As a result, the soaplands are able to operate without the cops getting too worked up about it, which, of course, is really great news for Japanese guys who like to take baths with prostitutes.

As far as what actually goes down at the soaplands, well, it’s pretty much all kinds of stuff apparently. For example, the Wikipedia article on the topic includes this particularly interesting passage: “After warming his body in the bath, the client then lies on the air mattress while the companion covers herself with liquid lotion for lubrication. Then she slides her body up and down client's body and brushing his body with her pubic hair. This is called ‘awa odori,’ or ‘bubble dance,’ and its form of eroticism is considered to be of the highest quality.” I feel like this last bit might have been written by whomever answers the phones at the soaplands. Still, needless to say, they had me at “bubble dance.” Keep up the good work. It has been noted.

My favorite soapland fact has to do with how the name itself came about. Apparently, soaplands used to be called “toruko-buro”, an awesomely phonetic translation of Turkish bath. Then one day a Turkish person by the name of Nusret Sancakli got all worked up about things and started some sort of newspaper campaign bitching about Japanese women working in Turkish baths (It remains unclear whether Nusret preferred an all-Turkish staff or whether he was just against naughty stuff in general). The word “soapland” was the winning entry in a nationwide contest to give the brothels a new name. That last sentence is incredible on a number of levels. For starters, let me tip my hat to the people of Japan for having a nationwide contest to rename brothels in the first place. If that’s not a fine example of how you keep things fun, well, I guess I don’t know what is. The name soaplands isn’t too shabby either. Me- I would have gone with whorebaths, but admittedly that name doesn’t have any of the theme park connotations that soaplands has. It seems like it would be really hard not too have a good time at a place called “soapland.” Unless, of course, you don’t like taking baths with prostitutes, in which I don’t know what to tell you, pal. I suppose you don’t like Halloween or Bastille Day either. It’s been nice knowing you, Mr. No Fun!

Dave Hill


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Susukino (the Sapporo blue-light district (about the same as red, but still keeping the 'secret' in 'open secret)), gaijin aren't usually welcome in businesses where sex may occur for reasons that include the embarrassment of the locals (it's hard for a salaryman to relax with gaijin around), different body type (gaijin tend to have body hair and--even if you shave it all off, have different odors and shapes), communication problems (mochiron), assumptions (the stock answer is that 'gaijin make difficult requests'...probably for things that only specialists do.), and flat out ethnocentrism.

Tempted by the idea of a bubble dance and saddened (and a little offended) at my exclusion as a gaijin, I asked (politely, in Japanese) some of the soapland operators if all said establishments excluded gaijin, and was eventually given the name of one or two (Nyu Yookaa; I had to take a Taxi to find it.)

The routine is:

Waiting room (so you don't see other guests.)
Escorted to shower room.
Undress, sit, be bathed everywhere, slowly, with soap.
Rinsed, soak in the bath.
Both brush teeth.
KY and water mixed and put on air mattress. Girl puts you on mattress where you are passively (so don't try to use your hands!) bubble-danced.

Then the possible (probable) release, where it may be okay for you to return caresses (ask.)

Then rinsed and washed and rinsed and possibly massaged or showered (depending on how much time you have left) and done.

The praises of the bubble dance portion cannot, IMO, be overstated. The rest doesn't come close. It's a good thing I don't live there; I can't afford the 18,000 ish yen a session costs.

I was feeling pretty unwelcome in Japan after being excluded from every 'unusual' bar and establishment around, and found I liked the country less as a result. Knowing that there are exceptions--if you look hard enough--helps me cling to my affection for this place. So, I thought I'd come online and share.


11:28 PM  
Blogger Charlie Sommers said...

Prices have certainly increased since I was in Japan back in the 1960s. A visit to a "massage parlor" at that time was about $2.70 and included being bathed by the hooker and then receiving a full body massage. If you wanted sexual release you payed an additional $2.70 for a hand job or perhaps as much as $5.50 for oral sex. Ahh...the good old days.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Metal450 said...

Hey Dave;

Just FYI, I changed the directory structure for my photo directories - the link is now http://www.justin-klein.com/blogmedia/2007/07_06_26.jpg :)

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