The latest innovation in Japan’s sex industry is the use of underage schoolgirls as part-time “therapists,” dressed in sexually suggestive uniforms and offering clients the chance of an oily massage, with some girls said to be earning $300 a day.
These “少女エステ店 / shoujo aesthete-ten” (“girl beautician shops”) are a recent innovation, originally started as normal massage parlours (which in Japan very often double as legal brothels) employing girls over the age of 18 for (non-sexual) therapeutic massages.
However, soon such establishments began employing the under-18s as well, with such younger girls enjoying great popularity amongst customers. One 16-year-old girl working at such a shop described her motivations for taking on the lucrative work: “there are those who don’t mind touching people’s bodies, but I’m doing it for the extra pocket money.”
The girls are said to don “uniforms” after school finishes, consisting of blouses or miniskirts, working until 9PM. The therapy consists of the girl joining the (male) patron in a small room, where the man removes his trousers and underwear and lies down, enabling the “therapeutic” application of aromatic oils and massaging of his legs.
Any untoward action on the part of customers is greeted with a swift call for help, although it is not clear how often this occurs.
Rates for one such establishment run from ¥4,000 for 40 minutes to ¥16,800 to 100 minutes, with the time spent in conversation and therapeutic massage. Some girls can take home over ¥30,000 each day, more than they could likely earn in any pursuit short of actual prostitution, itself exceedingly common in Japanese schools.
The services are now offered in several large Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Sapporo, with shops conveniently situated near major stations.
Police express their concerns that the work “dangerously targets the sexuality of young girls,” and are said to be considering their legal options, but the manager of one such establishment stresses that “this is on the borderline, but there is no issue as we can immediately report any threat to our therapists.”