Japan's Raunchiest Entertainment Industry Staggering?

Japan's biggest, brashest, raunchiest entertainment district -- suffered a slow, boring entrance to 2008, with one notable exception: love hotels, Shukan Shincho says.

"It's really sad," a Kabukicho restaurant employee tells Shukan Shincho. "There wasn't a soul around on New Year's Day. About the only places in Kabukicho that attracted anyone over the New Year holidays were game centers and pachinko parlors."

Rumors have recently sprung up that Japan's once-spurting "ejaculation industry" is well and truly on the wane.

"Ever since (Shintaro) Ishihara became governor of Tokyo, policing of Kabukicho has become really tight. The number of storefront sex business there has dropped dramatically and now there are only loads of stores selling adult DVDs or booths offering advice on sex services in their place," the restaurant worker says. "The whole atmosphere of the district has changed and virtually no-one comes here for sex anymore."

Once a Kabukicho staple, soapland brothels in particular are feeling washed up.

"A whole series of famous ramen noodle restaurants have opened up in one alley near all the soaplands," a Kabukicho insider tells the weekly. "People line up to get into the restaurants, which makes it a bit too embarrassing for guys to have to walk past them all to go into the brothels."

Still, not every business in Kabukicho is hurting. In fact, while not as many people may be paying for Kabukicho's carnal pleasures, that doesn't mean they're not getting them in the district.

"(Love hotels) have gone from being just places where you'd go for sex into becoming havens of pleasure. Competition among the hotels is absolutely fierce and consumers get the benefit. That's not just in things like reasonable rates and longer sessions, but services like room service menus with over 100 items and orders accepted 24 hours a day, surround-sound audio systems in the rooms, online karaoke sets and then free provision of toiletries and other items for stays like pajamas. There are even some love hotels with meals prepared by famous chefs," the Kabukicho insider tells Shukan Shincho.

"Some Kabukicho love hotels have started putting up sandwich boards in front of their establishments to advertise the services they're providing. Some couples even spent the entire New Year period in Kabukicho love hotels."

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