It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a way of linking maid cafes and hostess bars with digital idols and adult virtual reality. Behold the VR hostess cafe. Yumenographia is not a physical space, but exists purely in a digital realm: it's waiting for your patronage whenever and wherever you put on a VR headset. It is staffed by hostesses/maids who are, of course, entirely "fake" -- in the sense that they are digital avatars. But, and this is a big "but," the hostesses are real in the sense that they are the avatars of genuine people, rather than characters. At some remote ...

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Every few weeks an article does the rounds of the world media -- typically a translated news wire piece or something rustled up by a foreign stringer according to overseas editors' demands. The narrative is predictable. Japan is full of sexless youth; Japan is full of sexual fetishes. Japanese anime is child porn; Akihabara is a den of immorality and vice. Of course, there are elements of truth in all of this but such nuanced, sympathetic approaches are not what gets traffic. So you see articles like this on Deutsche Welle by Julian Ryall, saying that "Japan's 'maid cafes' [are] a cover ...

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We've been reading some interesting reports about goings-on in Osaka, which despite its inferior size compared to Tokyo, is often the first to try certain trends. And we suspect this might be the case here. Following a recent series of arrests and police raids on "suspicious" maid cafes and schoolgirl "massage" parlors in Akihabara and elsewhere, the JK girl services are rebranding to get around the child labor laws. Now the high school girl parlors as so-called taiiki-suwari cafes. A new addition to the Japanese erotic lexicon! These cafes of course have a no-touching policy. ...

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Tokyo Reporter had an intriguing (if worrying) article recently from the Japanese media about a maid cafe in Roppongi being raided for employing underage girls. Officers took Ryuji Shimizu, 41, the manager of Archangels Tokyo, into custody for allegedly employing a 16-year-old girl as a waitress after 10 p.m. — a violation of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses. The girl, who was attired in a light kimono known as a yukata, received an hourly wage of 1,050 yen per hour. This reminds us of the recent girls' bar scandal in Osaka and it seems police are now cracking ...

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It's not looking good for Akihabara's maid cafes as customers drift away from paying exorbitant prices for cups of coffee where there are no "extras". According to a media report, maid cafes started in Akihabara in 2001 and then you get visit on for a drink for a mere ¥500. (These days it is more like double that or more!) Based on national database figures, there were a mere 132 maid cafes in Akiba at the end of 2011. Since the peak was 282 cafes, this means 150 -- over half -- have closed. In the decade the world economy has hardly done so well and Japan in particular is ...

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Japan may well have recently officially entered recession again but that does not seem to impact Nipponbashi, Osaka's run-down area known for its electronics stores and sex industry (imagine Akihabara combined with Kabukicho). Osakans have always had very good heads for business and it seems, despite the nation's economic woes, that Nipponbashi establishments are defying the overall turn towards offering cheaper goods and services a la UNIQLO et al. Rather, they are cunningly ripping people off in the maid cafes and sex shops. As reported over on Tokyo Reporter, one maid cafe in ...

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