Japan: Wireless for Sex

Japan: Wireless for Sex

By Wired for Sex staff - Posted Jun 04, 2003
The Japanese are technological innovators who have arguably created the most wired (and wireless) society on the planet. Not surprisingly, their tech obsession has extended into the realm of dating and sexuality. Consider this: Singles routinely meet via cellphones, which women also use to follow their ovulation cycles. Japanese television, meanwhile, has become increasingly erotic in tone. In this episode, we explore how the synthesis of Japan's conservatism, innovation, and sexuality may present a snapshot of things to come.

Cellphone love

Japan's cities teem with people -- and social opportunities. The Japanese dating tool of choice: the cellphone. Unlike Internet portals such as Match.com, which are generally accessed via computer, the Japanese access dating sites Asoboo.com and ImaHima using their cellphones. If a young woman finds herself in Roppongi Hills with no one to buy her a drink, she can access the service to look for a suitable companion. If someone in the vicinity responds positively, global positioning systems, using ringtones, direct the two to each other for an "offkai" (Japanese slang for a meeting off-line).

These days, Japanese women can use cellphones to track their ovulation. After logging their vitals into a database provided by the service, an animated koala bear depicts their cycle. If the bear climbs up the tree, the woman's temperature is rising and she may be ovulating. If the bear climbs down, conception is unlikely.

Erotic entertainment
Americans often believe Japan to be a rigid, sexually repressed, conformist society. All one needs to do to squash that fallacy is experience pop culture in the land of the rising sun. Many television shows are sexually outrageous (albeit in a comic fashion), and pulp fiction is usually sexually charged. Though it has toned down in the past 10 years, much Japanese television programming can be described as erotic.

One of the more outrageous channels is Paradise TV, whose popular show at the moment is "No-Holds-Barred Sexual Harassment Heaven." In it, female contestants are sexually harassed to the delight of the audience.

"The Japanese are great game players," says the author of "The Japanese Art of Sex," Jina Bacarr. "They have something, part of their personality, called gamon gamon, or endurance. And they love to see how far they can endure, whether it's in the bedroom or on the playing field."

But even more outlandish is the immensely popular narrative entertainment of hentai anime and manga (sexually graphic animation and comic books).

Central to hentai (Japanese for "perverse") anime are pubescent-looking girls with unnatural dimensions partaking in equally unnatural sex acts. A prevalent theme involves demons with tentacles ravaging females. This is noteworthy because censors are less tolerant of an "adult" drawing of two humans than of a giant penis-shaped tentacle ravaging a sleeping girl.
Toshio Maeda, Hentai artist
Jina Bacarr, author
Ron Morse, professor

Babies needed: Have more sex, please
It's hard to believe a country with so many people living in close proximity has a population crisis on its hands. Yet younger generations are choosing to forego having children until much later in life. No place is this more evident than in the Japanese countryside, where the population has dropped precipitously over the past several decades.

There is a price to pay for life in the city. Both sexes experience tremendous pressure to maintain their careers. Children are often seen as a hindrance. "A 30-year-old woman does not want to quit her job, lose her spending money, not have money to spend on clothing, etc.," sexologist Kim Myung Gan says. Instead, young single women "want to be single and have a good time."

Some maintain that the problem with such a paradigm is that eventually there won't be enough people in the working segment of the population to support the senior generation during their retiring years.
Kim Myung Gan, sexologist

I'll go out with you for a Prada purse!
Japan differs greatly from much of the Western world in terms of its cultural attitude toward sex. Take, for example, the practice known in Japan as "enjo kosai," or compensated dating.

"Enjo kosai is often abbreviated in Japan as enko. Basically it's the 'sugar daddy' system," says Erik Gain of dating site Asoboo.com. "It's not prostitution, at least not in the sense of traditional prostitution. What usually happens is that older men go out with younger girls. It wouldn't be acceptable to the Japanese to accept cash for that type of relationship, so basically the men give the girls gifts."

A recent study found 10 percent of men in Japan paid for sex at least once a month.

Pregnancy eventually catches up with many enjo kosai girls. Japan has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. For girls under 19, the number of abortions rose to 46,500 in 2001, almost double the number in 1995.
Kim Myung Gan, sexologist
Eric Gain, Asoboo.com

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