By: Kyle James | 11-26-2017 | News
Photo credit: Rob Gilhooly | japantimes.

Boys For Rent In Tokyo Face Sex, Lies And Their Own Vulnerability

||| Rob Gilhooly | japantimes.|||

First Dash in Tokyo appears to be a normal bar on the outside, but on the inside its the male equivalent of a strip club for high-class customers, mostly men. The young boys who work there line up in the bar with their heads buried in their phones until a customer walks in at which point they stand up to recite a greeting in unison. "Irasshaimase!" They say.

<img src="" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">

<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Rob Gilhooly</span>

The portly, balding middle-aged patron who enters the bar wanders over to a table with a teen of an average build in tow. The bar manager Toshiyuki Matsuura says, "He’s here for an interview … and kenshū." "Kenshū" being a non-descript term for "training" which normally wouldn't raise an eyebrow of anyone listening. This particular occasion is a day-long test to see if the "boy", which is how the male teens are referred to in Shinjuku's Ni-chome district, can perform the job required of him. The boys are known as urisen and their sole job is to "entertain" Dash's customers which are mostly males.

One 18-year-old urisen with a defined jaw named Hiroshi says, "I think of myself as a kind of hedonist — I’ll do anything if it makes me feel good. The clients I have served are aged between around 30 and 65. Usually, they are masochists who want me to be, well, you know, domineering."

To avoid beating around the bush and just state the obvious, these teenage boys, or urisen, are male sex workers who are forced by their job to carry out sexual acts on older men. The bar has been in existence for over 35 years and is one of about 400 gay establishments in Shinjuku Ni-chome which is essentially the area of Tokyo known for being a gay hub.

Hiroshi describes the type of things he has to do, "There are guidelines as to what I’m required to do." The teen says he was in need of money and entered the business to help work out his sexual orientation which for him was in question. But I’m willing to keep an open mind. I have no problem with gay people and don’t understand those who do. My sister is lesbian, and so is my aunt. … I can tolerate pretty much anyone — except rorikon (adults sexually attracted to children). They disgust me."

<img src="" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">

<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Rob Gilhooly</span>

A film called "Baibai Boizu" focused on urisen as the film's topic and the title translates to "Boys for Sale" in English. The film interviews the many urisen who range from homeless, uneducated young men to teens with financial hardships or even crippling debts.

A Tokyo-based filmmaker from New York and executive producer of the film Ian Thomas Ash says, "I think the film tells a lot about the vulnerability of young people, particularly when they are economically disadvantaged and how they can be taken advantage of

but we didn’t want viewers to go away thinking these guys are being victimized." Ash added, "Sure, there’s a willful holding back of information by owners, but there is also an almost willful ignorance on the part of the urisen."

The film is set to make its premiere on November 26 during Tokyo AIDS Week.

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The Japan Times No. 13148 2017-12-02 : 14:28

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