OFF INTO THE WILD WET YONDER How does this...
Japan’s dirty laundry is being aired out in public again, as the country’s “schoolgirl used underwear biz” once more finds itself in the news.
Japan: Loads of convenience? Check.
24-hour conbini (convenience stores) dot the land. Offering not only a seemingly endless variety of food (fresh and prepackaged) and beverage choices, these stores also handle bill payments (for mobile phones, utilities, taxes); accept mail and package deliveries; handle dry cleaning; and even sell train, plane, and concert tickets.
Their numbers throughout the country are so numerous that using one as a landmark is a great idea only if you are actively trying to get lost, as there are often 2–3 of the same franchise within several hundred meters of each other (if not closer).
Have no time for a conbini run? Vending machines are an even more common (and more convenient) alternative. Although not quite matching in terms of variety, vending machines offer everything from bottled water, green tea, fruit juice, and soda to hot drinks, cocoa, and even canned soup. Other regular “conveniences” that can be found on offer in these machines include beer, sake, and (in the countryside) rice, fruit, and vegetables.
Japan: Tons of perverts? Ummm, also check.
Most (read as: all) major cities have red light districts, with soaplands (full service), health massages (half service?), and most likely some sort of sekku hara (sexual harassment) cafe, where one can apparently have staff dress up as a secretary in an office setting and then role-play as much as can be afforded.
This is in addition to the numerous hostess bars, lounges, and kabakura (cabarets), where mostly younger girls dress in elegant gowns or the club’s particular “theme”(schoolgirl, maid, race queen, etc.), as well as “snacks” and pubs, which are predominantly smaller “hostess-like” places where the owner/mamasan sings karaoke with patrons and the only other girl working the bar is her niece, daughter, or some such. And let us not forget the (in)famous opai (breast) pubs, where customers get the nomi-momi-hodai (all you can drink (alcohol) and all you can squeeze) package.
So, taking all of this in—and it is a lot to take in—it should come as no surprise that there are also trades for almost any fetish in the country. Some are way, way out there. Others are accepted as being relatively mainstream.
Dirty panties, surprisingly, is one of the more mainstream ones. So much so that at the instersection of convenience and perversion one will be unsurprised to find vending machines selling used panties to salarymen looking to get their fetish on. As to how “used” they are… let’s just say there is a considerable range and leave it at that.
Tokyo Reporter explains, “In the early 1990s, the trade by the shops, referred to by the name burusera, an amalgamation of ‘bloomer’ and ‘sailor’ (in referring to the uniform), reached its peak. Schoolgirls could readily sell their worn undergarments to merchants in heavily trafficked metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo’s Shibuya district.”
And while the sale of underwear, socks (yes, socks), and schoolgirl uniforms for anyone under the age of 18 or still in high school was supposedly outlawed in 1993, the practice still continues
However, this once thriving business for merchants in the dirty underwear trade has moved underground as police have been cracking down on shops, and streetside vending machines are long gone. Public scrutiny, as well as efforts by police that have been forced into action on this issue, have seemingly only pushed the trade online, where it can stay relatively out of sight.
So as shop owners complain about police “harassment” (for breaking the law), the online trade only continues to grow. After all, this is Japan. And what’s more convenient than shopping from home?
H/T: Tokyo Reporter