love: Midori’s ‘Kinky Shopaholic’s Guide to Japan’

by Violet Blue on January 8, 2010


Image of nude on Tokyo streets by Sixism.

I probably don’t need to tell you that I adore Midori (I profiled and interviewed her in the San Francisco Chronicle here and here), and that she’s also a friend. Sitting home on a friday night while all my friends are out at parties, I have the exciting fortune to come across her brand-new article for Carnal Nation, The Kinky Shopaholic’s Guide to Japan. Midori just spent time in Tokyo working and really soaking up the fetish scene, and if anyone’s to make a guide for offbeat sex shopping, it’s her. The expert! Her article is one of the most entertaining pieces I’ve read in a long time, has some fun photos and lots of links, and should be stashed away for when you plan in visiting Tokyo. Superb! here’s a snip from the middle of page 1:

(…) The easiest start to your sex shop tour is a common but popular discount chain called Don Quijote. It’s one of my favorite weird-Japan shopping destinations. Commonly referred to by locals as “Donki”, it’s a cross between Target and a deep discount outlet. Wind through the narrow isles filled with cosmetics for secretaries and Goth girls alike, and electronics for housewives and bachelors, and you’ll find yourself in a corner with a sign barring the under-18 crowd. Not that anyone actually cares, it seems. Everyone from teenage guys and girls to hip young men and women and the creepy guys with bushy ear hair equally shop for adult toys. It’s refreshingly democratic.

Along the way to the adult-only corner, pay attention to the party supply, toys, clothing and novelty sections. There you’ll find oddly kinky goods. Inventory changes all the time with seriously weird stuff showing up, so repeat visits are highly recommended.

My favorite items this time:

* Booty pillows complete with thong bikini.
* Mexican wrestler Santa and Wrestler Christmas Tree masks, which covers several fetishes at once.
* Pikachu, Hello Kitty and other cartoon character Snuggie-style adult pajamas.
* Adult-sized schoolgirl outfits in the party supply sections.

In the X-rated corner you’ll find vibrators and lubes of all sorts. The pricing is very reasonable here, so get your naughty souvenirs before you fly home. You can find a Hello Kitty vibe for a mere US$18 (they run about $35-$40 in the States).The Shinjuku branch is set up for Duty Free shopping if you bring your travel documents, but I’m not sure if sex toys qualify for it. It’s worth a try, though.

The packaging graphics tend to be sweetly cute, with illustrations and color choices that seem more suited for candy bars and kid toys rather than sex. While some of the design choices are meant to appeal to female customers, it’s a general trend in Japan to package erotic goods with illustrative cutesiness rather than photographic smuttiness.

Generally speaking, most Japanese find the porno aesthetics of Western sex goods packaging to be grotesque, while Western consumers often find the child-like sweetness of Japanese adult goods packaging to be vaguely disturbing.

Ah the joys of multi-cultural sex attitudes!

As you look around further, you’ll notice something different from the Western adult stores. It’s hard to find items that look like real human genitalia. Porn star dongs don’t ding the cash registers in Japan. Apparently the representation of realistic yonis and lingams fall under the porn censorship law as being injurious to public morals. Combine this with the general Japanese obsession with “kawaii” (cute), and you get oodles of doodle toys designed in Anime sweetness. (…read more, carnalnation.com)

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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