Not far from Tokyo's famously busy Yamanote railway line, there is a building getting there in age. At over 40 years old, it's a dinosaur by Japanese construction standards. There I found a tiny apartment jam-packed with women.
Wherever I looked, my eyes were bombarded by disorderly piles of panties, bras, pajamas and more. The stench was in a class by itself.
The oldest occupant there was 25 and she agreed to talk to me. I had to ask how this apartment and this anything but pleasant living situation came into being.
“This was a regular share house once upon a time. But the rent was simply too high and we eventually could not pay. To make ends meet, those of us here at the time decided to go to into the delivery health business.”
Since the occupants then and now were still in high school, this was not ordinary delivery health, but a take on enjou kousai.
It's safe to say all of the women found living in this rundown apartment came from broken households. Some were runaways, others flitted from job to job (and home to home), and some like the 25 year-old I spoke with were the products of domestic violence.
They all dealt with varying levels of financial difficulty and paying the share house monthly rent of 30,000 yen (approximately $300USD) was a formidable challenge. The owner's actions at this time are hard to judge morally. The recommendation the owner made was for them to consider taking the road of prostitution to pay their bills and provided them with the contact information for men who lived in the same building.
'Sessions' cost each John 15,000 yen (approx. $150USD) though some were as high as 30,000 yen. The owner, having set them up with their contacts, took a massive 60% cut and was not shy about kicking out female residents who did not want to play ball. There's always more wanting to live on the cheap.
(Translator's note: there's always two sides to each situation. Some target enjou kousai—and all prostitution really—by claiming it exploits women, but that's not always the case. The situation found within this apartment though is a mixed bag. The women have chosen to live there, but due to their backgrounds may lack the know-how and the will to better themselves.)
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