Japan’s Strangest Cafes for the Lonely and Curious

  • SOCIETY
  • CULTURE
  • In these modern times, it’s easy to start to feel disconnected from other people due to the stresses of life in the 21st century. The internet and social media are not helping people to have actual face to face interaction with others, and physical contact is hard to come by for some.

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    Japan is no different, and judging by the declining birthrate and the recent findings that half of Japanese people have no sex at all, there is a good opportunity for businesses that cater toward the human need for intimacy. Because even though there are people who say they feel no need for a partner or intimacy, the fact is that the great majority of people do feel the desire to be touched and soothed every now and then.

    The Business of Intimacy

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    Of course, even though prostitution has been made illegal in Japan in 1958, it is not too hard to find someone who is willing to accept money in exchange for sex. However, sometimes it is not just vapid sex you want; what you really want is to feel the kind of intimacy you normally only feel in a loving relationship. You want to be cherished and taken care of like your girlfriend would, but without the daily grind and difficulty that regular relationships also bring with them.

    Japan has that need taken care of in specialty cafes. People who are content receiving love from animals can go to the already well known cat cafes, rabbit cafes or even owl cafes. But if you are looking for a real ‘girlfriend experience’, you can have your needs taken care of by professionals in cuddle cafes.

    Cuddle Cafes (Soine Ya)

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    Tokyo’s neighborhood of Akihabara is well-known for it’s many shops that center around otaku culture, so it is maybe not too surprising that cuddle cafes (called ‘soine ya’, meaning ‘sleeping together shop’) are mainly found around this area.

    Their services are not cheap: after paying an admission fee of 3000 yen (around 30 dollars), you have to pay 3000 yen for every 20 minutes of companionship. That is just the basic package where the girl will ‘sleep’ next to you, but not provide anything extra. If you for example want the girl to touch you on the arm for a few minutes, or look into her eyes for an extended period of time, be prepared to pay extra. For a whole night of sleeping you will need to pay hundreds of dollars, so this is not something to do on a regular basis for most people.

    Needless to say, the service strictly does not include any sexual acts. Touching an employee inappropriately will result in a warning and eventually expulsion.

    If you would be interested in this special experience, click here for access information.

    Ear Cleaning Salon (Mimikaki Ten)

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    With the same purpose of making a customer feel comfortable and taken care of (with the added bonus of getting clean ears), but a bit more difficult to understand for the average non-Japanese person, are ear-cleaning salons. In order to understand the appeal of having your ears cleaned by someone else, you need to know about the Japanese custom of mothers cleaning their children’s ears. The kids lie down on their mother’s lap, and she gently cleans their ears giving them her coveted full attention. This is a fond childhood memory for many Japanese people, hence the ear-cleaning salons.

    Something else that is also good to know, is that the earwax of most East Asian people is different than that of people from different parts of the world: it is dry and flaky as opposed to yellow and waxy. This makes the cleaning process different than what most non-Japanese are used to, and perhaps also more comfortable.

    If you want to experience the Japanese way of ear-cleaning in Tokyo, click
    here for a map.

    Customers of both cuddle cafes and ear-cleaning salons are almost all male, usually they are tired men who are looking to relax after a long day (and night) of work.

    What do you do to relax when you feel stressed out, or when you are feeling lonely and want to feel someone’s arms around you? Would you visit these cafes and places to get your fix? Or would you prefer to look for someone special who can do it for you for free?

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    5 Strangest Japanese Cafes and Bars You Never Knew Existed