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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Book Review: Pink Box


Feminist, journalist, lawyer, photographer, and former English teacher Joan Sinclair has produced a fascinating work on Japan’s ubiquitous sex industry. Pink Box: Inside Japan's Sex Clubs takes the reader places most of us will never get to.

In Tokyo's Shinjuku, Osaka's Umeda, Kyoto's Kiyamachi, and throughout the country, women dress up like “nurses, policewomen, and commuting secretaries to provide men with fantasy services acted out in elaborately decorated playrooms.”

body_stocking_serviceSinclair starts in Shinjuku's Kabukicho, ground zero of the Japanese sex industry, where the fun comes in almost any shape and size and fantasy. Amazingly, Sinclair—a foreign woman—managed after being away from Japan for ten years to return and talk her way into the clubs, camera in hand.

In 2005, she spent a year deep in the demi-monde of the Japanese sex industry, “befriending the women, customers, and managers who work in Japan’s entertainment industry”—and ultimately was granted complete access.

She was if not exactly in the trenches then right next to them, snapping away. The photos in
“Pink Box” depict the working conditions for the women, the feeling of the brothels, the sheer variety; more than that, though, they portray as individuals the women who choose to work there.

The book is divided into chapters based on the different choices available to the consumer: hostess clubs, host clubs, nude theaters, touch pubs and pink salons, soaplands, peeping rooms, fashion health, image clubs, happening bars and couples’ clubs, and a final chapter on “still more pink businesses.”

This is a fascinating look at a world few are privy to.

Photograph from PINK BOX (Abrams Books). © Joan Sinclair

Buy Pink Box: Inside Japan's Sex Clubs.

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