More handbags abuzz to good vibrations
The buzz on Japan's streets nowadays is that just about any young woman is carrying around her own vibrator, according to Shukan Post (12/23).
Instead of the old days when aids were referred to as "adult toys" and carried a sleazy image, sex aids are now called "adult goods." It's apparently become so common that it's almost as though there's a vibrator in every handbag.
"In the past, nearly all our customers used to ask us to disguise the labeling on our packages so they looked like they were cosmetics or something, but now we get much fewer of those type of requests," Norie Oda, operator of the Happy Woman adult aid shop, tells Shukan Post. "I suppose people just don't see them as such a big thing anymore."
Eiko Yamada, proprietor of Shesta, another adult good shop targeting women, says there's more good vibrations around than a Beach Boys album, with the number of adult aid users skyrocketing, particularly among women in their late 20s to early 30s.
"Our sales are almost 200 percent what they were last year," Yamada tells Shukan Post.
Sanae Takahashi, CEO of Merci, another company in the same line of business, explains what has brought about the change.
"Before, there only used to be seedy stores that existed only for guys. But, over the past few years, (ubiquitous) discount store chains like Don Quijote have started selling sex aids over the counter and online sales are doing well, too," Takahashi says. "There has been a really rapid increase in the number of our single women customers, and those who come to the store as a couple. We did some marketing and monitoring and made sure we stocked cute shapes and colors that would appeal to women."
Japan's adult aid market for women has evolved quickly.
"You only used to be able to buy items that were either egg-shaped or made to look like a male organ. And they cost a small fortune, too,' an adult aid manufacturer tells Shukan Post. "Now they come in all sorts of shapes so complex it's hard to even tell they're vibrators. You can get some that warm human skin, others that emit a sweet smell when they're turned on. Prices vary, too, with the range starting at about 3,000 yen and going through to really classy models in the vicinity of 10,000 yen. Expensive models don't just jangle around, either. They also move up and down."
Shesta's Yamada says the typical sale is an item selling somewhere from 4,000 yen to 6,000 yen.
"They're about 15-centimeters-long, which is a size that fits nicely into a make-up pouch," she says. "And our most popular items share the common trait of having been made to be small and cute."
Ikumi Wakabayashi, a writer on the adult entertainment world, analyzes what's being called the "My Vibrator" phenomenon.
"It's been about 15 years since we moved from the sleazy world of 'Adult toys' to 'adult goods.' The change also brought about the creation of adult item stores catering to single women and couples, and the stores where all the employees were women. It's become much easier for women to buy adult goods. Online sales offering anonymity have also become the norm and sparked explosive sales," Wakabayashi tells Shukan Post. "Women's sexual awareness has progressed. More women now want to pursue sexual pleasure by themselves, as well as with guys. Young women have no problems with using adult goods." (By Ryann Connell)
December 15, 2005