Police crack down on Akihabara reflexology parlors over prostitution allegations

A few years ago, various shops began to appear in places like Akihabara offering services like hugs, ear-cleaning, “snuggling,” massages, and “reflexology.” However, like how massage parlors may provide more than just a massage, some of the “cuddle cafe” (soine-ten) establishments merely used these services as fronts for forms of prostitution. A police crackdown ensued and we actually thought there were very few, if any, left.

It seems that such places are still around and up to their old tricks, operating under the guise of rifure-ten (reflexology shops).

A rifure-ten chain, Rapunzel Akihabara, was accused on May 17 of violating the anti-prostitution law in March by offering “secret options” in the private rooms at its branch, Ace Akihabara, which opened in April 2020. Three have been arrested.

It follows another similar allegations leveled at Cherry × Cherry in March, whose operator and others were arrested. It employed around 30 people at the parlor.

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Its “under-the-counter” services were apparently famed and it developed a reputation as a place where full sex was also on the menu. This renown resulted in lots of yen flowing in — an estimated ¥115 million over three years.

According to a detailed report by Bunshun, however, customers didn’t have much in the way of privacy. The “private rooms” were tiny three-tatami-mat spaces divided from the corridor only by a curtain.

Its staff were gyaru types in their twenties who would openly ask a male patron if he wanted to make use of the “secret options”: a blowjob for ¥10,000, sex with a condom for ¥20,000, and sex without a condom for ¥30,000. But these prices were negotiable, it seems, since Bunshun’s story claims the girl suddenly halved the cost of sex with a condom. Upon being paid, she produced a condom discreetly stored in her sock. She then promptly took her clothes off, slipped the condom on the man, and started kissing him. Because the other “rooms” were so close, she said she wouldn’t make noise, so the only sound was the man’s body moving and slapping against hers. Not exactly romantic.

Some parlors also offer outcall “dispatch reflexology,” which is essentially a disguised form of a call-girl service (generally known in Japan by the euphemism delivery health).

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