There is one thing I do find sort of interesting and depressing at the same time. For a while now, people have claimed that the pervasive introduction of the internet into our lives will have a tendency to alienate people from one another and we'll have less 'real' relationships. This idea isn't accepted by everyone, many who argue that online friends and social groups are just as valid as those you might find in the real world. That said, if you believe in the idea that our modern society leaves us isolated and craving real human interaction, then you need look no further than Japan. I've always found the idea of Maid Cafes amazing in a sort of depressingly pathetic way. Think of it as the G-rated equivalent of a strip club if you've never run across the concept. The idea that men (and it's almost all men) will pay hugely inflated prices just so cute girls in maid outfits will serve them omelets with lovey dovey messages written in ketchup on it is just sort of surreal. Of course, each extra interaction comes with a price tag attached and I've heard that the pricing is often astronomical. I used to think that strip clubs were beyond depressing but if that's the case, I have no words to describe how something like this makes me feel. I heard recently that a maid cafe actually opened here in the US. I took a look at their website to discover that they just shut their doors a couple weeks ago. I'm thinking that downtown detroit may not have been the best choice for such a business endeavor. Someone clearly never got the 'location, location, location' lecture in business school.
All of that said, I just read an article that makes maid cafes seem absolutely normal and fine. The article is here if you have a mind to read it for yourself but what it describes is the opening of the first Sleep Cafe in Tokyo. At these locations, you actually pay money to _sleep_ next to young women. I don't mean that as a euphemism either, though it wouldn't surprise me at all if there were a private special menu with other services. Here is a breakdown of what is on offer (at least publicly):
Admission Fee: 3000 yen ($40)
20 min – 3000 yen ($40)
40 min – 5000 yen ($65, only 3000 yen for first time visitors)
60 min – 6000 yen ($77)
2 hrs – 11000 yen ($142)
3 hrs – 16000 yen ($206)
4 hrs – 20000 yen ($258)
5 hrs – 25000 yen ($322)
6 hrs – 30000 yen ($387)
10 hrs – 50000 yen ($645)
“Shimei-ryo“ (fee to pick the girl you want to sleep with) – 1000 yen ($13) + 500 yen ($6.50) per hour
Good grief. Look at those prices! I know that things are more expensive in Japan but holy cow. Just in case you're loaded and not content to lie next to a woman soaking in that vibrant XX aura through osmosis, there are also options you can add to your experience for a little extra fee.
Customer sleeps in girl’s arm (3 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Girl pats customer on the back (3 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Customer pets girl on the head (3 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Customer and girl stare at each other (1 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Girl changes clothes (1 time) – 1000 yen ($13)
Girl gives customer foot massage (3 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Customer gives girl foot massage (3 min) – 2000 yen ($26)
Customer sleeps with head on girl’s lap (3 min) – 1000 yen ($13)
Girl sleeps with head on customer’s lap (3 min) – 2000 yen ($26)
I almost wish I were making this up somehow. Paying $13 to stare into another person's eyes for a minute? Can you imagine how awkward that would get after only 5 seconds? Or maybe that's me because I tend to avoid making eye contact whenever possible. Not to mention, is it wrong that I'm sort of obsessed about the price difference in who receives the foot massage? Maybe there's something to this I'm not quite getting or maybe it's a fetish thing. At least it's sort of understandable why it might cost more for her to sleep on the guy's lap rather than the reverse. There has to be some sort of hazard pay for the chance of getting poked in the ear with his boner.
I just find this to be almost depressing beyond words. You can't help but feel sorry for any guy lonely enough to visit one of these establishments. It's hard not to see the women and the proprietors of these places as preying on those poor schlubs. Part of me just feels that if you've gotten to that point, you might as well just step in front of a train. Well, no, that might delay the train and inconvenience all the commuters which would be a no-no in Japan. Maybe you could just quietly hang yourself in your room after sending a card to the local police station informing them of the time and apologizing for interrupting their day with body removal.