Sex Tech Guide recently wrote up an interesting report about Tokyo’s VR booths.
“Space is a valuable commodity, but it would seem that in Tokyo at least, so too is the privacy to masturbate,” as the article writes — a fact that people living in the city’s rabbit-hutch apartments with families can well attest.
The article investigates one such booth in the basement of an Soft on Demand sex shop. The booth contains a computer, VR headset, wall-mounted tissue dispenser, towel, clock, and a vacuum cleaner.
Any doubts over the intended use of these booths were quickly dispelled by a helpful display stand that informed me that “All products are adult videos (pornographic)” and that “When viewing VR it is recommended to use adult goods.” Prices for renting the booths start at ¥1,500 for a 60-minute session.
The main point the report makes is that the VR booths are selling space.
While the adult virtual reality tech is new, this kind of service is not. For decades there have been booth-like facilities in major cities for watching porn, usually identifiable by the signs saying “video.” These have survived, more or less, even in the digital age, since it is hard for many average salarymen to find the time or space to watch AV in their own time at home if they live with their families.
Indeed, one of the main types of customers using Internet cafes in Japan are men renting the private booths to watch porn, rather than browse Wikipedia, which they can just do on their phone on the train to work. One of our earliest memories is of Internet cafe staff calmly spraying air freshener to cover the stink of semen from the men using these private booths. You could even hear the banging of the desks as the guys jerked off. Ah, happy days.
The report also got picked up by The Sun, one of the most notorious tabloids in the UK, and unsurprisingly turned into another “wacky Japan” narrative (“VR porn booths let Japan’s randy cyber-pervs watch virtual reality smut”) full of weird assertions and clumsy inaccuracies (Soft on Demand is described as “a notorious Japanese VR porn firm”). Yes, Japan is wacky at times (like pretty much all other places), but please do your homework first.