IES: Japan SCCS:

Premodern rural: 2,2,3+,4-,3,3;5,5




More: Burakumin


Introductory Notes

Historical Note on Marriage


Sexual Climate

Sex Education

Age Stratified Patterns

Juvenile “Sexual Delinquency”

Enjo Kosai



Introductory Notes


The (early) sexual milestones of the urban Japanese were monitored regularly, for instance as reported by Asayama[1] and Hatano[2]. These large studies prove of minor value in interpreting Japanese sexual culture, which has been the agenda of many Western scholars. Quite generally, “In Japanese society sexuality is considered part of one's inward, hidden life; however, there are few notions of guilt or prohibition. Although the legal system was changed in 1945 under US pressure to shift from a patriarchal family system to a more egalitarian one, the patriarchal system remains quite strong” in 1984[3].


In an interesting, and to some extent unique, article, Mamiya (1956)[4] measured “excitability to words, sentences, anatomical figures and pictures with sexual content by means of GSR [galvanic skin resistance?] and respiratory rate recordings” apparently in peripubescents. The results would suggest “[a] period from 11 to 13 years old [...] to be the one of psychosexual change which is earlier than physiological maturation” [Psychinfo]. This is interesting since drawings by Japanese peripubescents, as compared to those drawn in other parts of the world, and while being more detailed and sophisticated in general, “sexual details were nonexistent”[5].


Historical Note on Marriage


Herold (1985)[6] states that from the sixteenth century on, marriage could be conducted by puberty, menarche occurring at ages 12-14. Puberty was marked by a change of dress (genpuku), its timing being variable over the centuries. Sexual education was provided by the grandparental, not the parental generation; it largely consisted of the introduction to prostitution after the genpuku (p688). Legal age distinctions were historically placed at 7, 10 and 16 (603-967), 15 (967-1467), and 15 or 13 (1467-1603). Until in the 20th century, male and female dormitory systems were widespread, entered by males from 15-25; a “double morality” would have been relevant here (p695), with more freedom for males. Marriage could occur at age 13 (females) and 15 (males), among the noblemen at 12 or 13 (p697, 698).


Child betrothal among the Ainu was infrequent and its outcome negotiable (Bachelor, 1892:141-2)[7].



On May 5th, Japanese families celebrate Tango-no-Sekku, the Boy’s Festival, to honour the healthy growth and development of the young boys in the family. Girl’s get their own day on March 3rd, where families display traditional Hina Dolls and eat a special tri-coloured treat called Girl’s Day Mochi. Boy’s Day is celebrated across Japan and in the United States as well.

Sexual Climate


[A downloadable 1996 German MA dissertation details the history of sex education in Japan[8].]


DeMause (e.g., 1991)[9] repeatedly interprets the makeup of Japanese society as “incestuous” [orig. footnotes]:



“The average Japanese today sleeps with his or her children until the children are ten or fifteen years old”[10], - one recent Japanese study found daughters still sleeping with their fathers over 20 percent of the time even after age sixteen[11]. Even when the home contains a dozen rooms or more, parents and grandparents feel "lonely" if they sleep apart from the children in the family, and therefore go to bed with some child every night (the mean age in one study of children sleeping alone is 12.7 years)[12]. Since so many families still practice what is termed dakine co-sleeping - with the parent or grandparent sleeping while physically embracing the child, a practice said to be beneficial to the health of the adult”[13] - and since most Japanese parents still regularly have sexual intercourse while the child is in bed with them[14], one wonders how scholars can continue to maintain that nothing sexual usually happens to the Japanese child in the family bed, particularly since none have yet asked the children themselves about their sexual experiences”.


From his Emotional Life of Nations[15], it appears that this interpretation is largely a “Western”, but not entirely a psychohistorical[16] party [orig. footnotes]:


“Western observers even today often notice that Japanese mothers masturbate their young children during the day in public and at night in the family bed-in order, they say, "to put them to sleep”[17]. The average Japanese mother sleeps with her children until they are ten or fifteen years old, traditionally sleeping “skin-to-skin” (dakine) while embracing her child because the father-as in the traditional gynarchy-is usually absent, over two-thirds of Japanese husbands being involved in extramarital intercourse[18]. Japanese mothers often teach their sons how to masturbate, helping them achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as with toilet training[19]. A “mental health hotline” in Tokyo recently reported being flooded with calls about incest, 29 percent of them with complaints such as that the mother would offer her body for sex while telling the son, “You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use by body”, or “I don’t want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead”[20]. Wagatsuma reports “Japanese mothers often exhibit an obsession with their sons’ penises...[they are] usually brought in by their mothers who fear that their sons’ penises are abnormally small”[21], with the result that Japanese marriage clinics find “60 percent of their patients are afflicted with the 'no-touch syndrome”, that is, they will have no physical contact with their wives for fear that it will lead to sex...[termed] the “I love mommy' complex[22]” Adams and Hill and Rosenman have thoroughly documented the castration anxieties resulting from Japanese maternal incest[23]”.


DeMause (1994/1998; cf. 1991)[24] further argues:


“Childhood in contemporary Japan—although somewhat more Western than that of other Eastern nations—still includes masturbation by mothers "to put them to sleep." Parents usually have intercourse with the children in bed with them; and "co-sleeping," with parents physically embracing the child, often continues until the child is ten or fifteen. One recent Japanese study found daughters sleeping with their fathers over 20 percent of the time after age 16. Recent sex surveys report memories of sexual abuse even higher than comparable American studies. "Hot lines" of sexual abuse report mother-son incest in almost a third of the calls, the mother saying to her teenage son, "It’s not good to do it alone. Your IQ becomes lower. I will help you," or "You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use my body," or "I don't want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead”.


Japan indeed seems to have a history of early prostitution (cf. supra).


Buschan ([1921:p250])[25] states that, particularly in the south, boys were prepared systematically for prostitution “von Kindesbeinen an” (cf. Ploß / Renz, 1912:p551). Drew and Drake (1969:p109-16)[26] state that boys were trained per digitum (often) by former prostitutes from age 8 or 9.


The “incestuous” climate (co-sleeping, masturbation instruction, prostitution, pederasty) of Japan sketched by DeMause, however, is counteracted by other authors with a psychodynamic claim, at least in the case of co-sleeping. Commenting on this practice, Connor (1976:p192-3)[27] argues that


“both maternal closeness and strong family ties bring about a strong feeling of dependency and a resultant suppression of sexuality or genital primacy. The Japanese mother does not encourage maleness in a genital sense”.


Caudill and Plath (1974)[28] similarly argue that Japanese co-sleeping implies


“[...] a strong cultural emphasis upon the nurturant aspects of family life and a correlative de-emphasis of its sexual aspects” (Connor).


De Vos and Wagatsuma (1973:p54) add that “parents must use opportunities when children are absent or asleep for sexual congress”. The claims of Kitahara (1989:p56)[29] are not paralleled by similar claims.


Edwardes and Masters (1961:p80)[30] write: “Coitus between little boys and girls is quite common in Japan as elsewhere throughout the Orient”.  Maretzki and Maretzki (1963:p492)[31] observed that “[i]nfants may be patted or manipulated around the genital area by an adult. Old women like to tweak a little boy's penis and jokingly say. “What is that, what is that?” Female infants are quickly covered with exaggerated expressions of shame whenever they are exposed for diaper changes. Petting of genitals by an adult is used mostly to soothe the child. It would be severely rebuked, however, if attempted by a child caretaker”. “As children get older, exposure of genitals is much less serious in the case of a boy than in the case of a girl. Little girls are told to sit like their mothers with their legs together and are never permitted to expose their genitals. This is true even for those young girls who are still without pants. Occasionally boys tease a little girl by shouting, “Your vagina [pudenda?] is showing”. Sexual manipulation between children, either homosexually or heterosexually, was never observed. The following observation illustrates the response of an older sibling to her 4-year-old sister, who attempts to imitate a urinating boy”. “Exhibitionism between boys occurs, and a urinating demonstration among boys with an erection is occasionally seen. Such behavior is not condoned by adults. Girls, however, almost always urinate alone at a short distance from the group. Children are shamed if one refers to their genitals as they approach school age. The separation between boys and girls, which increases with greater age, also discourages mutual play or sex experimentation”.

Cornell and Smith (1956:p73)[32]:


“Infant sexuality [?] is accepted unless it occurs in what is regarded as inappropriate surroundings. Small children indulge in sexual play without censure, several common games having clear sexual overtones. Masturbation is regarded as harmless in very small children, but as the child grows older he is likely to hear warnings from elders and stories about the adverse physical and mental effects the practice has on growing youth. This advice stresses the increased nervousness and fatigue that allegedly result from masturbation”.


Mothers co-sleep with infants until the birth of a second, and maternal co-bathing with sons may continue till age 12, or when they begin to object (Lebra, 1985:p176)[33]. Thus, it is common for a Japanese mother to bathe and sleep with her son even after her offspring reaches the age of puberty, states Kitahara[34]. Thus:


“Co-bathing is equally significant, continuing until the age of six and beyond. Mothers sometimes wash their children even after they have reached adolescence. Although sexual motivations are vigorously disavowed during these activities, research reveals a pattern that links co-sleeping and co-bathing to incest. For boys, this incestuous activity with mother is so traumatic that the notion of sexuality with other females is repugnant, marriage is often impossible, and fears of impotence are common. Even granted that incest does not occur in many instances, the libidinal excitation experienced by Japanese children during these experiences is extreme. […] Mothers flick their sons' penises while bathing them and joke about how prolific their sons will be as adults. They masturbate their children in public to keep them quiet. They masturbate them at night to put them to sleep”[35].


On the post-war Okinawans, Pitts (1955)[36] stated that data on birth was withheld from children[37], and are reprimanded for dirt talk[38].


“Adults playfully tweak the penises of little boys and may put little children of both sexes to sleep by prolonged patting of the buttocks. They do not tell their children about the nature of sex and expect them not to know, yet the children hear much thinly-disguised discussion of sexual relationships and, sleeping with their parents as they do, may be vaguely aware of their parents’ relations. Parents expect their children to learn of sex “naturally” as they grow older. As Maloney reports[39] , there is little masturbation among small children, but two of Pitts’ informants reported that adolescent boys sometimes hold masturbation contests to see who can ejaculate the fastest. This practice is said to stop with the beginning of heterosexual activity”.


A 66-year-old woman would argue that “a male after seven years does not sit with a woman” (Danjo nanasai nishite seki o onnachu sezu). In rural Japan, “Rules about sex were very strict”: girls of 12 were not to talk to boys outside their home (Bernstein, 1978:p27)[40].


“In the premodern community, children of similar ages formed peer groups and played together near their farm homes, in a backyard, an open field, or in the barn. The children often obtained interesting and helpful information related to sex from observing the farm animals; in this manner, sexuality education went on in an informal manner. The “doctor/nurse play” they often enjoyed within their peer group in a secret space provided sexual information and fantasy, which in turn helped them form a healthy sexual identity of their own” (Hatano and Shimazaki, 1997)[41].


Today, little seems changed even in industrial environments. “For small children, provided they confine such indulgences to private contexts, playing with these [genitals] is no big deal. They can play “doctors” with no comparative impunity; they naturally tire of this just as rapidly as they do a game with Transformer robots or electronic talking dolls. […] Women bathing boys often flick nascent appurtenances with a finger, laughing about the lady-killer its proud owner will grow up to be” (Bornoff, 1991:p127-8)[42].


Issei families and, to a lesser extent, Nisei families maintain the traditional, patriarchal and hierarchical family structures and relationship found in the traditional Japanese family, are restrained and are not less physically demonstrative in their expressions of affection, love, and intimacy; and rigidly control the sexual expressions and behaviour of children (Hirayama and Hirayama, 1986)[43].



Additional refs.:


§  Pike, F. (1997) Where some sons do have them, Spectator, Jan 18;278,8790:20-1




Sex Education


Smith (1912)[44] had argued that “there is a good deal of ‘freedom of speech’ on all sex matters among all classes of people as compared with Western standards of modesty”, ranging from “talk and stories of nurses and servants in the case of well-to-do and of playmates in the cases of poor children”. Smith further discussed “a real effort in the secondary schools at proper sex education, at least for the girls”. As a matter of fact, the contributors to Human Sexuality, a 1905 initiative of physician Fujikawa Yû generally advocated that Japanese schools adopt a program of sexual pedagogy modelled on German practices[45]. Frühstük[46] writes:


“Most pedagogues who contributed to the [1908] debate in the Yomiuri shinbun [daily newspaper] agreed that sex education was necessary primarily "to avoid the horrible consequences of masturbation” [...] Yubara Motoichi, the head of Tôkyô Ongaku Gakkô [Tokyo school of music], suggested discussing sexual instinct in a way that would not embarrass young boys and girls. He also thought it essential to separate boys and girls during sex education. Masturbation, he argued, was to be mentioned rarely and only if absolutely necessary, and before doing so a doctor was to be consulted. [...] For Washiyama Yayoi [...] founder and director of Japan’s first medical school for women [...] masturbation was “the most terrible ailment related to the sexual instinct”. Regarding sex education, she asserted: “The only purpose of the sexual instinct is reproduction, and any abuse has fatal consequences”. Washiyama believed that ignorance led students between the age of fifteen and seventeen to masturbation. Since masturbation did not lead to satisfaction, they masturbated frequently and had to bear unimaginable consequences” [as cited by Smith].


Norbeck and Norbeck ([1956:p672])[47] later observed: “Although parents seldom or never include direct reference to sexual relations in instruction regarding the proper deportment of girls, by the time a girl has reached puberty she has learned thoroughly that pre-marital sex experience is not only prohibited but also that it may be disastrous”.




Additional refs.:


·         Castro-Vazquez,-Genaro; Kishi,-Izumi, 'Nemureru ko wo okosu mono dearu': Learning about Sex at a Top Ranking Japanese Senior High School, Sexualities; 2002, 5, 4, Nov, 465-486

·         Kawahara, Yukari (1996) Politics, pedagogy, and sexuality: sex education in Japanese secondary schools. Unpublished PhD. dissertation, Yale University

·         Kawahara, Yukari (2000) Diverse Strategies in Classroom Instruction: Sex Education in Japanese Secondary Schools, Japanese Studies 20,3:295-311

·         Norbeck (1954)[48]

·         Shimamoto, M. (1988) [Present situation of knowledge about sex in adolescents and future sex education], [Jap J Child & Adolesc Psychia] 29,2:87-91

·         Tsubakita, T. (2000) Sex Education in Children and Children’s Fantasy about Sexuality, in Chen, Sh. J., Furutsuka, T. & Shirotani, Y. (Eds.) Research and Clinical Center for Child Development Annual Report, 1998-1999. No. 22. Hokkaido University, Sapporo (Japan). Faculty of Education

·         White, M. I. (1993) The Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America. New York: Free Press. Esp. chapter “Sexuality: Illusions and realities”


Age Stratified Patterns


Psychohistorians have surveyed Japanese age stratified homosexuality (DeMause, 1991[49]; Kitahara, 1989:p57-9)[50]. As it appears, ancient Japan resembled both India and China in having institutionalised “Greek-style” pederasty of boys -by priests as well as warriors[51]-, yet added to temple prostitution of both boys and girls, and “widespread” “child” prostitution, including the ancient geisha system[52]. “When the madam in charge of the younger girls considered a girl “ready”, usually about age fourteen, she would try to find someone willing to pay a special price for deflowering her”[53]. Japanese brothels would start girls in sexual service at 5 to 7 years old[54]. Children in medieval Japan would be sold for prostitution in poor families[55].

Leupp (1995)[56] provides a rich historical analysis on man’s passion for ‘boys’ (p33, 38-46, 68, 94, 122-9, 143, 151-2). The author remarks that“[…] references to "beautiful boys"[note omitted in puppet plays and collections of humor from the seventeenth century suggest that many men in the gentry (yangban) class retained boys for sexual purposes. Homosexuality seems to have been especially associated with provincial gentlemen. Some of these men (like the literati of Fujian in China) even kept boy-wives whose status was publicly acknowledged in the village. Upon reaching adulthood, such boys would normally enter into a heterosexual marriage” (p19).


Among the Samurai, “[w]ithin class-based confines, all youths [wakashu] between puberty and adulthood were potential sexual partners for adult males, just as all women potentially were” (Schalow, 1989:p121; 1990[57]). Pederasty by the aristocracy and priesthood is well documented as occurring since at least the 14th century, with young boys given by their parents to be used anally by samurais[58] and by priests in monasteries- the boys sometimes having been worshipped as gods incarnate in religious cults similar to those of the cult of the Virgin in the West[59]. In Medieval Japan, “[f]or men, desires are fulfillable in a range of forms, from intercourse with women and young boys to wet dreams and masturbation. These acts, for which there were no separate words, in and of themselves receive no negative judgement” (Tonomura, 1994:p148)[60].

During the 14th and 15th century, a specific genre of love poems or novels (Chigo Monogatari) were written that surround a homosexual theme of Buddhist priests and boys aged between seven and fourteen (Childs) or 10/11 to 16/17 (W&I), called chigo, residing at the temples (Childs, 1980[61]; cf. Watanabe and Iwata, 1989:p38-46; Leupp, 1995:p38-9). “It seems that the Buddhist priests who taught these boys in secluded mountain temples were relatively safe from the temptations of women, but were susceptible to the charms of the chigo who lived in their midst. A popular saying, Ichi chigo ni sannō (“Chigo come first, the god of the mountain second”), reflects the prevalence of sexual relationships between priests and chigo”. Among the samurai, the chigo (lit., young child) was to make way for the wawashu (lit., young man). The wawashu would be aged 13/14 to18/19 (W&I, p47), or up to majority (p117), their love being called shudo. Whereas chigos were to engage in anal intercourse only, the menu was more variable in the case of wawashus (p119, 121). The authors argue against the influence of Christianity in the deterioration of shudo, beginning in the 18th century; rather it would have its origin in “the precipitate modernisation of the whole of Japanese society” (p26-8, 121-4).



“The 'Golden Age' of nanshoku ('man-boy' sexual activity) is now identified as Genroku, but did later Edo accept this? I propose that what is today located in Genroku was thought of as received behavior throughout early Edo, but was then forced back during Kansei into earlier history, especially Sengoku, removing nanshoku from the Tokugawa dispensation. Wakashu portraits, for example, formerly popular, disappear from Kansei art, likewise fuzoku paintings suggesting a normalcy for same-gender eroticism; onna-girai (exclusive same-sex orientation, including adult) was utterly submerged in the inequality of adult-child nanshoku”.




“The popularity of boy love among shosei (young male students in Meiji period) is often mentioned in Meiji literature such as Tsubouchi Shoyo’s Tosei Shosei Katagi or Mori Ogai’s Vita Sexualis. Not a few young men at that time still considered that women were not worth loving and preferred boys as their lovers because they believed that they could improve their strength as “real men”, both emotionally and intellectually, through homosexual love. However, under the influence of the Western ideal of love and Western psychiatry, both of which only justify heterosexual relationships, Japanese intellectuals began to think that male homosexuality is “unnatural” and “immoral” “.


Subcultures of contemporary Japanese manga allow an inspiration by the ancient ways in their renewed concept and expression of “boy-love”. Japanese censorship ethics may, as is argued, “revolve around political struggles whose import is not the censoring of offensiveness per se, but is rather authoritarianism's basic yet desperate desire to assert itself in an increasingly liberal political climate”, having had “the unique side effect of creating safe spaces of sexual fantasy (for children, for example) […]” (Helms)[64]. In 1999, Diamond and Uchiyama[65] observed that “there are no specific child pornography laws in Japan and SEM [sexually explicit material] depicting minors are readily available and widely consumed. [...] Most significantly, despite the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly”.

Contemporary Japanese “boy-love” apparently includes women’s taste for ‘beautiful youths’ (bishoonen) as “androgynous [beings] who possesses a feminine sensibility and yet [experience] all the advantages of a male body” (McLelland, 2000a,b,c,d; 2001) [66] YAOI, for instance, is “an acronym formed from the first letters of the Japanese words YAma nashi [no climax], Ochi nashi [no point] and Imi nashi [no meaning] and refers to those boy-love stories in which there is less romantic plot development and more emphasis placed on the sex scenes between the male characters”.



With Rorikon (loli/rori= Lolita, kon/con= Complex) is meant the schoolgirl-craze most typically associated with Japanese middle-aged males. A number of associated iconographic and pornographic niches exist: Shotacon (the boy equivalent of lolicon), toddlerkon, and so forth. As Sharon Kinsella[67] notes, the Japanese iconical ‘Lolita’ is mirrored by the girls’ Cuteness (kawaii) cult. Few sociological insights are had in contemporary Occidental reading of this matter.


“The young male enthusiasts of the rorikon manga, commonly referred to as the otaku, a term connoting “socially inept young male,” have seen their social status rise in relative terms over the course of the 1990s. As earlier works show, in the early 1990s the term otaku described the emergence of a breed of sexually frustrated young males obsessed with perverse hobbies who sought refuge in a virtual world, and otaku became a designator for a social problem”.[68]





§  Berndt, J. (1995) Phänomen Manga. Comic-Kultur in Japan. Berlin: Edition

§  Graham, D. (2002) Exhibit highlights battle between good and evil, Toronto Star, July 18, Ontario Edition

§  Japan hooked on Lolita fantasy; The Guardian Weekly 155,23:14-23 / 1996

§  Jones, S. (2003) Oriental Lolitas, New Statesman, 2/3/2003; 132;4623:38

§  Kadri, F. (2001) Japan defends freedom of expression in manga comics, Agence France Presse, December 20, 2001

§  Seward, J. (1995) Japanese Eroticism. A Language Guide to Current Comics. 2nd ed. Houston: Yugen Press

§  The darker side of cuteness, Economist, 05/08/99; 351,8118:32

§  Angles, Jeffrey M., Writing the love of boys: Representations of male-male desire in the literature of Murayama Kaita and Edogawa Ranpo (Japan). PhD thesis, Ohio State University, 2004, 417 pages

§  Hernández, Christian (2005) La cultura rorikon en la sociedad japonesa contemporánea.

§  McLelland, Mark (2005) The World of YAOI: New Media and the Emergence of a Global "Boy Love" Fandom [public lecture, St. Lucia Campus, University of Queensland, Aus] 02 September [2005]



General additional refs.:


§  Carpenter, E. (1914) Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk. American edition. New York, Mitchell Kennerley, ch. 8

§  Jñanavira, Dh. (nd?) Homosexuality in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition, Western Buddhist Rev3, at

§  Wieringa[69]



Juvenile “Sexual Delinquency”


Contemporary Japanese culture has an established concern for preadult sexual misdemeanour[70]. This includes the phenomenon of “amateur prostitution” (enjo-kousai, see below) in late adolescence[71]. It was argued[72] that the causes of [juvenile] sexual delinquency include a “breakdown of family bonds, instigation by mass-media, a social tendency that people tend to indulge in momentary pleasures, and education unconcerned with sexual morality”. Whatever the causes, LeTendre[73] recently found that the social construct of hormones as an intoxicating and distracting force was common among U.S. middle school teachers, while Japanese teachers “did not link puberty with hormones or disruptive behavior with sexual energy”. Rather, the issue of exposure to pornography has a long-standing concern[74].

Opposing currents, Savells[75] argued that, cross-culturally, juvenile delinquency was low, while the number of sexual offences had been steadily dropping. Shibuya (1999)[76] further argued that in most articles published in Kyoiku-Jiron during Japan’s Meiji Period (late 19th-early 20th century), behaviours entitled “sexually delinquent” were “uncritically problematized, with authors concluding that youth should be strictly supervised and youth sexuality controlled”. Takahashi (1993)[77] had argued that, while “traditional” Japanese sex education emphasized training in the practical method of sexual intercourse, “modern” Japanese sex education is “a mechanism of social control and a reaction to sexual delinquency. Though sexual delinquency is commonly believed to be linked to presentation of information about sex in the mass media, no such linkage has been established, and sexual delinquency among Japanese has not significantly increased”.



Enjo Kosai


Below a short link list to the teenage prostitution phenomenon commonly known as Enjo Kosai (links unchecked since Aug 07, 2004):


‘Enjo Kosai’ – Sex, Schoolgirls and Consumerism in Japan

Cameron Weston

Crikey, 09 July 2004


Last year a Inter-Asia Cultural Studies issue, Volume 4, Number 2 / August 2003 with 4 articles:



§  UENO, C. (2003) Self-determination on sexuality? Commercialization of sex among teenage girls in Japan, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4,2:317-324

§  HO, J. (2003) From Spice Girls to enjo kosai: formations of teenage girls’ sexualities in Taiwan, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4,2:325-336

§  KIM, E-S.A (2003) culture that cultivates the prostitution of teenage women: based on the experiences of prostitution among teenage women, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4,2:337-352

§  LAM, O-W. (2003) Why did enjo kosai anchor in Taiwan but not in Hong Kong? Or the convergence of “enjo” and “kosai” in teenage sex work, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4,2:353-363



Does comic relief hurt kids?

Is the eroticization of children in Japanese anime a serious social

problem or just a form of rebellion

The Japan Times: April 27, 2004

Tony McNicol


Who’s your sugar daddy?

July 9 2004

Veiled prostitution or Japanese tradition? The question of geisha and

their modern equivalents hits the stage, reports Jacqueline Maley.



E: Enjo Kosai


Subsidized dating, or enjo kosai , is the catchphrase that has been

coined for the worrying phenomena of teenage prostitution, whereby

high-school girls date older men for financial compensation. Held up as

an example of declining moral values in Japan, enjo kosai has been

fuelled by the increase in “telephone clubs” where men pay to wait in a

cubicle for a call from a potential date. Female callers ring in on the

free-dial numbers often advertised on the free packs of tissues

distributed outside stations and on busy streets. The extent of the

problem is probably nowhere near as large as reported in the media,

although there’s certainly more to it than the hoo-ha from a few years

back over schoolgirls selling their used underwear to sex shops.


‘Rorikon’ trade nurturing a fetish for young females

March 22, 2004


‘Suikerooms’ lokken steeds meer gegoede kinderen in de prostitutie


Enjo kosai: teen prostitution, a reflection of society’s ills

Jamie Smyth

September 4, 1998 Tokyo Weekender


Survey disputes ‘enjo-kosai’ hype

Asahi Shimbun

April 24, 1998


@ Aobakai “Japan” Conference, Tuesday, May 11, 2004:

Nina HQ La

The Contribution of Japanese Culture on the Development of Enjo Kosai

Junior, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley

Prof. Nelson Graburn: “Anthropology of Japan


Thesis in progress:

Stokes CL - Enjo Kosai - the commodification of feminine sexuality in Japan in the 1990s.





Additional refs.:


·        Fruhstuck, S. (2003) Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (Colonialisms, 4). University of California Press. Pp55-82, chapter ‘Debating Sex Education’

·        Fujita, H., Miura, M. & Hosomizu, R. (1984) [Various aspects of sexuality in delinquent girls through their compositions], [Jap J Criminal Psychol] 22,1:37-43

·        Yap, J. G. (1986) Philippine ethnoculture and human sexuality, J Social Work & Hum Sex 4,3:121-34

·        Dessau, Dorothy (1970) Glimpses Of Japanese Family Life Through Blue Eyes, J Religion 6(4):13 - 20




More: Burakumin






Additional refs. Japan:


Cinema: Tomato Kechappu Kôtei / Emperor Tomato-Ketchup (Shuji Terayama, 1970?) [note: compiler has no knowledge of the current legal status of the work, and has not reviewed it in person]




Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Nov 2005



[1] E.g., Asayama, Sh. (1949) Sexual Behavior of the Present-Day Japanese Students; Asayama, Sh. (1957) Comparison of sexual development of American and Japanese adolescents, Psychologia 1:129-31; Asayama, Sh. (1975) Adolescent sexual development and adult sex behavior in Japan, J Sex Res 11,2:91-112; Asayama, Sh. (1976) Sexual behavior in Japanese students: comparisons for 1974, 1960 and 1952, Arch Sex Behav 5,5:371-90; Asayama, Sh. (1980) Existing state and future trend of sexuality in Japanese students, in Forleo, R. & Pasini, W. (Eds.) Medical Sexology. Amsterdam [etc.]: Elsevier, p114-30

[2] E.g., Hatano, Y. (1991) Changes in the sexual activities of Japanese youth J Sex & Educ Ther 17,1:1-14; Hatano, Y. (1993) Sexual activities of Japanese youth, J Sex & Educ Ther 19,2:131-44

[3] Bauhain, C. & Tokitsu, K. (1984) Structures familiales et sexualité au Japon, à l’epoque moderne, Cahiers Int Sociol 31, 76:71-90

[4] Mamiya, T. (1956) Sei-teki hattatsu no rinkaiki ni kansuru mondai: Chukan hokoku [Problem of the critical period of psychosexual development], Jap J Educ Psychol 4:21-7

[5] Iwawaki, S. & Vandewiele, M. (1989) L’Etre humain dessiné par les écoliers Japonais de sept à douze ans, Cahiers de Sociol Economique & Culturelle, Ethnopsychol 12:119-42

[6] Herold, R. (1985) Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung (Jugend, Sexualität und Heiratsverhalten im Japan der Tokugawa- und Meji-Zeit, in Müller, E. W. (Ed.) Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung. München: K. Alber, p683-716

[7] Batchelor, J. (1892) The Ainu of Japan. London: Religious Tract Society

[8] Walch, Roger (1996) Sexualerziehung in Japan. M.A. Dissertation, Philosophische Fakultät, Universität Zürich []. Also see author’s Sexualerziehung in Japan, Asiatische Studien, Nr.4, 1997 []

[9] DeMause, L. (1991) The Universality of Incest, J Psychohist 19,2:123-164

[10] John Connor, Takie Sugiyama Lebra, George DeVos and Alan Roland, personal communications.

[11] Hendry, J. (1986) Becoming Japanese. The World of the Pre-School Child. Manchester: Manchester University Press, p21, 44; Mizushima Kanae, Shinshitsu Haibun ni Miru Oyako no shinsosei [Parent-child intimacy as seen in sleeping arrangements]

[12] Kitahara, “Childhood in Japanese Culture”, p54 [cit. infra]

[13] Lebra, Japanese Women, p176-80 [cit. infra]

[14] Coleman, S. (1983) Family Planning in Japanese Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p177, finds most families respond to questions about why they have sex in the same bed with children by saying it would be “selfish” not to do so.

[15] DeMause, L. (nd) The Emotional Life of Nations. Karnac Books, Limited, UK. Online ed., ch. 7

[16] See also Adams, K. A. & Hill, L. Jr. (1997) The phallic female in Japanese group-fantasy, J Psychohist 25,1:33-66

[17] Smith, R. J. & Wiswell, E. L. (1982) The Women of Suye Mura. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, p68-72; Haring, D. G. (1956) Aspects of Personal Character in Japan, in Haring, D. G. (Ed.) Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, p416; Bornoff, Pink Samurai, p76 [cit. infra]

[18] Gregersen, E. (1983) Sexual Practices: The Story of Human Sexualiy. New York: FranklinWatts, p246

[19] Kitahara, “Childhood in Japanese Culture”, p56 [cit. infra]

[20] Kitahara, "Incest-Japanese Style”, p446 [cit. infra]

[21] Adams, K. A. & Hill, L. Jr. (2000) The Phallic Planet, J Psychohist 28:[p33]

[22] Ibid., p31

[23] Adams & Hill, Jr., “Castration Anxiety in Japanese Group-Fantasies”, cit. infra; Adams & Hill Jr. (2000), cit. supra; Rosenman, S. (2000) The Spawning Grounds of the Japanese Rapists of Nanking, J Psychohist 28:2-23

[24] DeMause, L. (1994) The History of Childhood as the History of Child Abuse, Aesthema 11:48-62 / DeMause, L. (1998) The History of Child Abuse, J Psychohist 25,3:216-36

[25] Albert, M. & Buschan, G. (1921) Handbuch der Sexualwissenschaften. 2nd ed. Leipzig: Vogel

[26] Drew, D. & Drake, J. (1969) Boys for Sale. New York: Brown Book Co.

[27] Connor, J. W. (1976) Family bonds, maternal closeness, and the suppression of sexuality in three generations of Japanese Americans, Ethos 4,2:189-221

[28] Caudill, W. & Plath, D. (1974) Who sleeps by whom? Parent-child involvement in urban Japanese families, in Levine, R. A. (Ed.) Culture and Personality. Chicago: Aldine, p125-54

[29] Op.cit.

[30] Edwardes, A. & Masters, R. E. L. (1961) The Cradle of Erotica. New York: The Julian Press. See also p136, 290

[31] Maretzki, Th. W. & Maretzki, H. (1963) Taira: an Okinawan village, in Whiting, B. B. (Ed.) Six Cultures: Studies of Child Rearing. New York: John Wiley & Sons, p367-539

[32] Cornell, J. B. & Smith R. J. (1956) Two Japanese Villages. Ann Arbor: University Press of Michigan

[33] Lebra, T. S. (1985) Japanese Women. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press

[34] Kitahara, M. (1989) Incest - Japanese Style, J Psychohist 16,4:445-50

[35] Adams, K. A. & Hill, L. (1999) Castration Anxiety in Japanese Group-Fantasies, J Psychohist 26:779-809

[36] Pitts, F. R. (1955) Post-war Okinawa. Washington D.C.: National Research Council, Pacific Science Board

[37] “The only aspect of life that seems to be deliberately withheld from them is sex. They are told that babies come out of their mothers’ knees, and although they may overhear a good deal about the sexual relationships of different people and the difficulties that result from them, they are given no notion of the nature of sex”.

[38] “The terms for the sex organs, tani, “penis”, and hoo, “vulva”, are used rather freely by older persons, but children are expected to use them only for serious purposes. It is said that if children used the terms repeatedly in joking they might be scolded for “dirty talk”. An old woman once told me, in the presence of several younger women and a twelve-year-old girl, an amusing story about an old woman who always sat with her kimono pulled up and was therefore called “Hoo-Hai Ayaa”, “Mother Vulva-Visible”. Everyone laughed but the girl, who looked rather embarrassed. After the battle in 1945 when American food was issued in quantities, Okinawans became familiar with wiener sausages, which they still remember with relish as tani-gwaa, “little penises”. As in Japanese, the word for sexual relations is formed by adding the verb “to do” to the word for vulva. This term would not be used before children or in polite conversation.

[39] Maloney (1945:p392). See Maloney, J. C. (1945) Psychiatric Observations in Okinawa Shima, Psychiatry 8:391–9

[40] Bernstein, G. L. (1978) Women in rural Japan, in Lebra, J. et al. (Eds.) Women in Changing Japan. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press, p25-49

[41] Hatano, Y, & Shimazaki, T. (1997) Japan, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum, Vol. 2. Quoted from the online edition. See also Hatano, Y. (1988) Sexualerziehung von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Japan, In N. Eicher, et al. (Eds.) Praktische Sexual Medizin. Verlag Medical Tribune, pp. 34-42

[42] Bornoff, N. (1991) Pink Samurai. London: Grafton. New York [etc.]: Pocket Books

[43] Hirayama, H. & Hirayama, K. K. (1986) The sexuality of Japanese Americans, J Soc Work & Hum Sex 4,3:81-98

[44] Smith, P. A. (1912) Sex education in Japan, J Educ Psychol 3,5:257-63

[45] Frühstük, S. (2000) Managing the Truth of Sex in Imperial Japan, J Asian Studies 59,2:332-58. Cited by Smits, G. J., in Making Japanese. Unpublished textbook, Pennsylvania State University []

[46] Managing the Truth, op.cit., p342

[47] Norback, E. & Norbeck, M. ([1956]) Child training in a Japanese village, in Haring, D. G. (Ed.) Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. 3rd. Ed., p651-73

[48] Norbeck, E. (1954) Takashima, a Japanese Fishing Community. Salt Lake City

[49] DeMause, L. (1991) The Universality of Incest, J Psychohist 19,2:123-164

[50] Kitahara, M. (1989) Childhood in Japanese Culture, J Psychohist 17,1:43-72

[51] Ihara, S. (1972 [c1680) Comrade Loves of the Samurai. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co.; Frederic, L. (1972) Daily Life in Japan at the Time of the Samurai. London: George Allen & Unwin; Shiveley, D. H. (1970) Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the Gewoku Shogun, in Craig, A. M. & Shiveley, D. H. (Eds.) Personality in Japanese History. Berkeley: University of California Press; Varley, H. P. (1970) The Samurai. London: Widenfeld & Nicolson; Buruma, I. (1984) Behind the Mask. On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. New York: Pantheon; Childs, M. (1977) Japan’s Homosexual Heritage, Gai Saber 1: 41-45; Marc, D. (1949) Les amants du soleil levant,  Arcadie 66: 356-51; Saikaku, I. (1972) Tales of the Samurai. Tokyo: Tuttle; Krauss, F. S. (1911) Das Geschlechtsleben in Glauben, Sitte, Brauch und Gewohnheit der Japaner. Second Ed. Leipzig: Ithnologischer Verlag; Scott, G. R. (1941) Phallic Worship. London: Torchstream Books, p228; Czaja, M. (1974) Gods of Wyth and Stone. Phallicism in Japanese Folk Religion. New York: Weatherhill; Pflugfelder, G. M. (1999) Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950. Berkeley: University of California Press; DeMause (1991)

[52] For the age of geisha, one is to consult De Becker, J. E. ([1899]) The Nightless City, or The History of the Yoshiwara Yukwaku. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Thttle Co.; and Dalby, L. C. (1983) Geisha. Berkeley: University of California Press, p197; Schalow, P. G. (1989) Male Love in Early Modern Japan: A Literary Depiction of the “Youth”, in Duberman, M. B., Vicinus, M. & Chauncey, Jr., G. (Eds.) Hidden From History. Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. New York: New American Library, p118-28. Cf. Schalow, P. G. (1993) The Invention of a Literary Tradition of Male Love. Kitamura Kigin’s Iwatsutsuji, Monumenta Nipponica 48,1:1-31; Saikaku, I. (1995) Gay Tales of the Samurai. San Francisco: Alamo Square Press; De Vos and Mizushima, in De Vos [et al.] (1973:p269), cit. infra

[53] De Vos and Wagatsuma, in De Vos [et al.]  (1973:p268), cit. infra

[54] De Becker, op.cit.

[55] Hara, H. & Minagawa, M. (1986) Japanische Kindheit seit 1600, in Martin, J. & Nitschke, Au. (Eds.) Zur Sozialgeschichte der Kindheit. München: Verlag K. Alber, p113-89, see p146

[56]Leupp, G. P. (1995) Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan. Los Angeles: University of California Press

[57] Schalow, P. G. (1990) Samurai, in Dynes, W. R. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York & London: Garland Publ. Inc.Vol II, p1149-50

[58] Cf. Carpenter, E. (1914) Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk. American ed. New York, Mitchell Kennerley, ch. 8

[59] Watanabe, T. & Iwata, J. (1987) The Love of the Samurai. A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality. London: GMP Publishers; Saikaku, I. (1990) The Great Mirror of Male Love. Stanford: Stanford University Press

[60] Tonomura, H. (1994) Black Hair and Red Trousers: Gendering the Flesh in Medieval Japan, Am Hist Rev 99,1:129-54

[61] Childs, M. H. (1980) Chigo Monogatari. Love Stories or Buddhist Sermons? Monumenta Nipponica 35,2:127-51. Adapted from author’s 1978 MA thesis. Referred to by Payne, R. K. (1999) At Midlife in Medieval Japan, Jap J Religious Stud 26,1–2:135-57; and Pflugfelder, G. M. (1992) Strange Fates. Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Torikaebaya Monogatari, Monumenta Nipponica 47,3:347-68, at p365-6; and Brock, K. L. (1995) The Shogun’s “Painting Match”, Monumenta Nipponica 50,4:433-84, at p471; and Allen, L. W. (1995) Images of the Poet Saigyo as Recluse, J Jap Stud 21,1:65-102, at p79; and Guth Ch. M. E. (1987) The Divine Boy in Japanese Art, Monumenta Nipponica 42,1:1-23, at p 16, 18. Cf. Childs, M. H. (1996) The story of Kannon’s manifestation as a youth, in Miller, S. (Ed.) Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press; Childs, M. H. (1985) Kyôgen-kigo: Love Stories as Buddhist Sermons, Jap J Religious Stud 12,1:91-104

[62] Screech, T. (1996) The Boys of Kansei. AAS Abstracts, Japan Session 9, at

[63] Saeki, J. (1996) Male Homosexuality in Meiji Literature: Its Traditional Aspects and Change Through Meiji Modernization. AAS Abstracts, Japan Session 9, at

[64] Helms, U. (2000) Obscenity and homosexual depiction in Japan, J Homosex 39,3-4:127-47

[65] Diamond, M. & Uchiyama, A. (1999) Pornography, rape, and sex crimes in Japan, Int J Law Psychia 22,1:1-22

[66] McLelland, M. J. (2000a) No climax, no point, no meaning?. Japanese women’s boy-love sites on the Internet. Paper presented at the workshop Japanese Popular Culture in Hong Kong, Bishop Lei International House, Hong Kong, December 10-12, 1999. In Communication Abstracts 23,6:763 / J Communication Inq 24,3:274-91; McClelland, M. J. (2000b) The Love Between ‘Beautiful Boys’ in Japanese Women’s Comics, J Gender Studies 9,1:13-25; McLelland, M. J. (2000c) Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan, Intersections 3 []; McLelland, M. J. (2000d) Male  Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press; McLelland, M. J. (2001)  “Why are Japanese Girls’ Comics Full of Boys Bonking?” Intensities: J Cult Media 1,1 []; McLelland, M. (2001) Local meanings in global space: a case study of women's 'Boy love' web sites in Japanese and English, Mots Pluriels 19 []

[67] Kinsella, Sh. (1995) TIES IN JAPAN, in Lise Skov & Brian Moeran (Eds.) Women Media and Consumption in Japan []; Kinsella, Sharon (1997) JAPANIZATION OF EUROPEAN YOUTH, in Carlo Branzaglia (Ed.) Italian in Nightwave. Milan: Costa & Nolan, May 1998 []; Kinsella, Sh. (Smmer 1998) AMATEUR MANGA SUBCULTURE AND THE OTAKU PANIC, J Japanese Studies []; Kinsella, Sharon, “ GIRLS’ CULTURE” AND CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY [ et seq.]

[68] Iida, Yumiko (2000) Between the Technique of Living an Endless Routine and the Madness of Absolute Degree Zero: Japanese Identity and the Crisis of Modernity in the 1990s, Positions 8:2 Fall 2000 []

[69] Wieringa, S. E. (2001) Silence, Sin and the System; Women’s Same-Sex Practices in Japan. Paper for presentation at the 3rd IASSCS, 1-3 Oct[ Saskia E. Wieringa.doc]

[70] Okada, R. (1989) A study of aberrant sexual delinquency in boys, Jap J Child & Adolesc Psychia 30,5:379-87; Tokushige, A. (1988) Sexual delinquency referred to family courts, Jap J Child & Adolesc Psychia 29,2: 91-4; Okada, R. (1987) A study of the recent increase in girls' sexual delinquency and aggressivity, Jap J Child & Adolesc Psychia 28,5:283-9; Ito, F. (1987) A study on female juveniles' sexual misconducts: I. Relationships between the extent of deviance in lifestyle and the types of sexual misconducts / II. An analysis of the background of sexual misconducts, Reports Nat Res Instit Police Sci [Japan] 28,1: 52-62; 28,1: 63-71; Kobayashi, J., Sales, B. D., Becker, J. V., Figueredo, Au. J. et-al. (1995) Perceived parental deviance, parent-child bonding, child abuse, and child sexual aggression, Sexual Abuse 7,1:25-44

[71] Sakuraba, T., Matsui, Y., Fukutomi, M., Narita, K., Kamise, Y. et al. (2001) Background factors of amateur prostitution (“enjo-kousai”) in Japanese high-school girls, Jap J Educ Psychol 49,2:167-74

[72] Akahori, S., Sakaue, M., Miyakoshi, M., Ishii, Y., Tsukada, N. et al.  (1999) Social pathology and sexual delinquency in Japan, Int Med J 6,1:33-7

[73] LeTendre, G. (1996) Middle School Teachers' Theories of Puberty.

[74] E.g., Kiyonaga, K. (1971) Youth's Attitude toward Sex and the Sexual Exposure in Mass Media: III. Sexual Attitudes in Youth. National Research Institute of Police Science, Japan. Most of the subjects received information on sex through friends, although mass media (particularly magazines and TV) did provide some information. Accounting for their abstinence in sex activity, junior high students more often cited their “immaturity”, senior high subjects stated that sex is “unhealthy” or “filthy”, and juvenile delinquents reasoned that some sexual behaviours are prohibited by “law”.

[75] Savells, J. (1991) Juvenile delinquency in Japan, Int J Adolesc & Youth 3,1-2:129-35

[76] Shibuya, T. (1999) [Problematization of Sexualities of Youth in Gakusei-Fuki Problem Report: Based on Articles of Kyoiku-Jiron in Meiji Period], Kyoiku-shakaigaku Kenkyu [J Educ Sociol] 65, Oct.:25-47

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