AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Swinger Culture

I’m now in Tokyo, having just arrived last night from Kobe. While in Kobe, I met someone off of OkCupid who I will call Steve. He’s American and lives in Osaka, which is quite close to Kobe. Steve had been in non-monogamous relationships before and wanted to, as he said, pick my brain about polyamory, which I was happy for. We had dinner together and talked about issues with non-monogamy. He also kept boasting about his oral sex skills. I had been up front with him about not being attracted, but I felt horny and he was keen to go down on me, so I agreed. We went to a love hotel and I have to say, he did have very good skills. He also told me about a swinger’s club in Osaka and I was curious, so we agreed to go the next day.

The club looks like most swingers clubs I have been to, just smaller. When you enter, there’s a small bar area. First we deposited our things in a locker and had a shower. Then we went to the bar and had some drinks. The bartender, as you may imagine, is pretty friendly. There was a TV with some music videos playing, so it’s a pleasant place to hang out. Of course, there is an area where you can have sex. There are some private booths, a couple with computers – not surprising, as this is the land of technology. Then there is a free space with 3 couches where you can do whatever you like. Single men aren’t allowed back there. If there is a single woman who’s interested in a single man, she needs to vouch for him and then they can go into the back.

Steve and I went into the free space and there were 2 other couples there. One couple looked very awkward, almost as if they didn’t want to be there. The woman looked pretty amused in her nurse’s outfit (you can either wear a robe or a costume- I chose to wear a robe) and the man just sat there with his arm around her. The other couple looked quite keen just to have sex with each other. I was interested in the woman, but the man didn’t seem like he wanted to share. Steve commented that some people might come to a swinger’s club because it’s cheaper than a love hotel or just because they wanted to be watched.

Much like other swinger’s clubs, the couples I saw there and the single guys that wandered in were a bit older. I’m glad to see that they are trying to spice up their relationship rather than cheat on each other, as cheating is rampant in Japan. According to Pamela Druckerman, the author of Lust in Translation (a very interesting book I read awhile ago), “Hints of Japan’s infidelity levels come only from the enormous size of the country’s paid-sex industry, which is famously frequented by married businessmen. A legal loophole permits a man and a woman to strike a private agreement for sex. Understandably, the state would rather not be confronted with the details (http://www.alternet.org/story/81022/lust_in_translation%3A_which_country_has_the_highest_rates_of_infidelity).”

It’s very easy in Japan for a husband to tell his wife that he’s working late when he’s actually having an affair. The wife generally won’t ask questions and she may even have an affair of her own. According to Japantoday.com, nearly 15% of housewives have also had an affair (http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/14-8-of-japanese-housewives-claim-to-have-committed-adultery). A lot of couples would rather stay in an unhappy marriage than have to endure divorce, for various reasons. I think that one of the biggest issues in Japan is the unwillingness to talk about sex. If there was more communication on that subject, many problems could be solved and perhaps, alternative relationship styles would be more acceptable. Until then, I think adultery here will continue.

I will be in Tokyo until next Thursday and before then, I’ll be meeting at least 2 poly people here, which I’m very much looking forward to. Then I head to Taiwan! If you have any relationship questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca. Thank you as always for reading!

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