In a few minutes, a man in his 30s arrives from the station, wearing glasses and
looking as geeky as the girl looks garish. The two exchange a few words before
heading to the nearest love hotel.
About an hour later, the couple emerges and momentarily parts ways. That's when
a Friday reporter stops the girl to ask her what's she been doing. Turning
tricks for money, perhaps?
She nods. Her name is Eri, she tells the magazine. She's 15 and has been living
on the streets of Tokyo, namely in the youth mecca of Shibuya, since May.
As for her livelihood, she supports herself by dating and sleeping with men
much older than herself, in a practice well-known in Japan called enjo kosai,
which literally means "assisted dating."
Much has been written and discussed about this form of teenage prostitution.
Even so, Friday decides to revisit the topic now that summer's here, when
hundreds of teenage girls like Eri converge on Shibuya, not just to hang out
but to camp out on the streets and make some quick cash in the process.
Eri says her decision to become a street kid was hardly a matter of choice.
"My mother is terribly violent," she says. "Once when I made dinner, she
complained that there wasn't any soup and not enough vegetables, so she smashed
my face on the corner of a garbage can."
She sleeps in coffee shops and love hotels, and meets with her johns outside
Shibuya due to a public-morals crackdown in the district.
Yet even though the plight of girls like Eri has received a barrage of
attention in recent years, it seems the enjo-kosai problem has gotten worse
rather than better, Friday discovers.
"The ages of people doing it are always getting lower, with an increase in the
number of junior-high schoolers," says a tout who has worked Shibuya's streets
for years. "But what's more, there are a lot more regular girls . . . from good
schools on the game."
That's the case with Sa-yaka. Like Eri, she's 15. Unlike Eri, she has a
comfortable home to return to each night. Her motivation for regularly heading
to Shibuya is purely materialistic.
"When I see something I like, I can't help myself -- I just buy it," she says.
"I read magazines and see cute clothes and accessories, which are sold in
Shibuya. You can't get them in the local places."
Sayaka recalls her first john, a guy in his 40s wearing a suit, who paid her
15,000 yen one night last year. They went to a karaoke booth, it started with
fondling and then went a lot further.
"I was just happy to get money so easily," she says.
Such "easy" earnings, notes Friday, are plowed back into Shibuya's glittery
shops and nightlife. In the process, the district becomes all the more
attractive to teenage girls in need of quick cash.
The Japan Times