C. Ogawa reports
Osaka has a bit of an image problem. It is the proverbial second city. Everything in Tokyo is bigger, better, and more chic.
Osakans reflexively, defensively compare themselves to Tokyo and Tokyoites; people in Tokyo would be hard pressed to say one positive thing about Osaka, if they think about it at all.
Worse still, in western Japan, Osaka is sandwiched between the elegant port city Kobe and, to the north, Kyoto, Japan’s cultural and artistic center. And, to be honest, Osaka is a grimy industrial city with virtually no parks and little in the way of tourism.
However, in addition to leading the nation in nearly every crime category, there is one area where the city takes a back seat to no one: Osaka is not just on the cutting edge of the pink industry; it is the cutting edge. Anything that becomes a nationwide trend probably started in the pink salons and soaplands and bee jay factories of Namba or Umeda or Kyobashi.
In keeping with that, there are now several establishments dedicated to a trend known locally as “Handmaiden.” Many coffee shops in Tokyo’s Akihabara or Osaka’s Denden Town – neighborhoods with high concentrations of electronics shops and, ergo, geeks – now feature waitresses dressed as “maidens.”
This is a Japanese nerd’s fantasy of what women in the Middle Ages of Olde England must have looked like. There is however no hanky-panky – just coffee and ogling. The look is part goth, part fluffy lace, all cute.
However, in other parts of town, it isn’t just looking and weak coffee. One pink salon with two branches in Osaka is dedicated exclusively to the fine art of the hand manipulation, and is aptly named Hand Maid.
On its stylish web site, Johns around the world can learn about the “system,” fees, a profile of each of the maidens, their work schedule, detailed maps, optional courses, play explanation (with manga renderings of what each course means), events, a blog, live chatting, lnks, and a recruiting link (promises of $60/hour, and potential earnings of up to $8000 a month).
As with many things in Japan, the “system” is complicated, perhaps unnecessarily so. People here prefer suffering the confusion of over planning — hence the love of “systems” and “courses” and “plans” — to the horror of the unknown.
Thus, a 20-minute handjob in Umeda costs 4,000 yen. This is the self-service, or roshutsu course: in other words, you do it, she watches. If you want to be pleasured — the “maid course,” in which a hand maid will use her hands and or feet — the same 20 minutes will set you back 5,000.
For the “mix course,” in which you both masturbate individually in the same room, that will run you 9,000 for 30 minutes. Each of the three courses comes in 20-minute, 30-minute, 40-minute, and so on up to 120-minute intervals. For a second woman, you generally are charged slightly less than double.
Here is where things get kinky. The options range from handcuffs to blindfolds, being stepped on or sat on (her butt, your face). And more. The additional charges start at 1,000 yen and go up.
Each of the maidens is given a brief profile with photo (often with the face blocked or hidden). The format is the same for all of the workers.
For example, a “Yumi” is listed as being a 22-year-old office lady — her day job — who enjoys shopping as her “hobby.” She has a petite 82-56-84 (32-22-33 inches) figure, has blood type A, is originally from nearby Hyogo Prefecture, does not smoke, and had her first sexual experience at 17. Her “charm point” is her eyes, and the type of man she prefers is “serious and upstanding.”
There is then a brief message from Yumi (the standard: “I’ll do my best!”), and a word of recommendation from the manager of the salon: “Yumi is dazzling and will overwhelm you with her presence. Her charm is sure to please, and you will be besotted. How about a secret rendezvous?”
The last section lists what Yumi will and will not perform. She’s a sport, so she checked yes to all three categories.
For the 0.5% of Japan that is illiterate, or completely dim, the site has color drawings depicting what each course entails.
Amazing: a pink salon with events. There are Hanshin Tigers and World Cup specials.
And all, the site assures us, in a yakuza-free zone. However, alas, the establishment is no more. In the name of research, we made the trip. After many attempts at finding the shop, we asked at the guitar shop that appears on the map as being across the street. “Closed” was the diffident reply of the young owner. All that remains of Hand Maid is the site. A cyber fantasy. Virtual pink.