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Blow up love-doll business puts boom into boom-boom

Blow-up love dolls used to be distinctive for the open-mouthed looks on their faces, but now it's interested onlookers whose astonished countenances are notable as Japan's market for artificial amour booms, according to Shukan Shincho (3/8).

Aside from skyrocketing sales of the love dolls themselves, recent innovations in the fake female field include rental rooms and escort services that cater to those looking to make out with mannequins, and even magazines focused on the dolls that show how "getting blown" has adopted an entirely different meaning when it comes to some Japanese sexual practices.

Love doll escort services usually throw the blow-up babes, affectionately referred to in Japan as "Dutch wives," into golf bags or the like and carry them to customers' homes, where they're left depending on the course that has been selected. A 60-minute session costs 5,000 yen, while a 3-night, 4-day sojourn will set back the lover of latex a hefty 35,000 yen.

Love doll rental rooms, meanwhile, offer space where a client can peacefully pump plastic, so to speak. One example of pricing the magazine offers is a membership fee of 1,000 yen, another 1,000 yen to rent space in the rental room, then 9,000 yen for every hour with the doll.

"Nearly all of our customers fall in their 20s to 50s," a Tokyo love doll rental room worker tells Shukan Shincho. "Customers are generally salarymen, but we get otaku (dweeb) types, too."

Among the dolls on offer at the rental rooms are those that are buxom, childish or even made to look like cartoon characters so they appeal to the otaku.

Rental rooms lend out spaces about 18 meters square and dolls are left waiting for customers when the areas are unoccupied. When the customers do come, it's not always a pleasant experience.

"The dolls are about 150 centimeters tall and weigh around 30 kilograms. That's pretty heavy, you know! And you don't know where the doll's weight is going to be placed. Moving them around can turn out to be a fairly demanding task. Taking their clothes off is hard work, too. The dolls don't move, so it's actually a fairly grueling job," a 20-something customer of a love doll service tells Shukan Shincho. "The skin is a bit cold, but it's taut and almost like a real human's skin. The nipples are fantastic -- exactly like real ones. The doll has a hole between its legs into which you can insert an adult aid made to resemble a woman's vagina. This feels identical to the real thing, too, except you need to use lube before you stick it in. Once you're inside, it's tight, probably better than a real one. But the eyes keep looking at you the whole time and there is absolutely no reaction. I gave up on the missionary position and tried to do it while sitting up, but the bloody doll was too heavy and I couldn't use it right."

Hideo Tsuchiya is not surprised to hear a love doll fan say they feel better than a real person. Tsuchiya is the president of Oriental Kogyo, Japan's prime purveyor of love dolls over the past three decades.

"In the blow-up days, the dolls had no strength and they were virtually like toys. That made people doubtful. That led to the start of improvements by making the face and breasts with a soft vinyl and the body with urethane," Tsuchiya says. "Now, we're seeing the results of many years of research, with the main part of the business seeing dolls given silicon bodies that have an elasticity similar to people and a feel that is almost real. Prices for dolls start at around 130,000 yen and can go up to about 600,000 yen. We sell about 50 dolls a month. You can buy replaceable heads for them, too."

Japan has about 10 love doll manufacturers. Their activities are closely watched by the publishers of "Aidroid," a magazine for men who like plenty of silicone with their slap and tickle.

"We publish about 10,000 copies an issue," the managing editor tells Shukan Shincho. "Love dolls are expensive. When you buy one, it's only natural you want to learn as much about it as you can. We try to get as much information about new products as we can, which is one of our sales points. Love dolls are getting lighter. And manufacturers are trying as hard as they can to make love dolls better." (By Ryann Connell)

(Mainichi Japan) March 6, 2007


WaiWai stories are transcriptions of articles that originally appeared in Japanese language publications. The Mainichi Daily News cannot be held responsible for the contents of the original articles, nor does it guarantee their accuracy. Views expressed in the WaiWai column are not necessarily those held by the Mainichi Daily News or the Mainichi Newspapers Co. WaiWai © Mainichi Newspapers Co. 1989-2007.

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