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Japan's time-honored sex industry still booms today, with its modern-day heart now located in the neon-lit, hedonistic, red-light district of Kabukicho, where despite Japan's Anti-Prostitution Law, everything is for sale, including young girls' hopes and dreams. The sex industry in Japan has been flourishing since the 15th century. Today, more and more trade routes were opened up here. Bestselling books and Hollywood movies have even focused on some aspects of the industry's history, such as fictions like Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha," which tells of 9-year old girl being sold to a geisha house in the s and forced into servitude, but over the years and through intense training in dance, music, song and etiquette, becoming the most sought-after courtesan in the land and eventually finding love and happiness.
But while historians and contemporary anthropologists may fume at comparisons being drawn between highly talented entertainers and companions such as geisha and modern day prostitutes, the stark reality is that if you subtract the superlatives, the similarities are more than apparent.
What's more, Marshall's romanticized portrayal, if providing an enticing glimpse into the trade, gives a somewhat distorted and at times, utterly misleading lure. The reality, in many cases, is far less rosy. They seemed happy -- chatting in coffee shops and restaurants with older guys," Tomikawa said. She envied what she perceived as their easy, rich life, and after finding out they were "hostesses", she decided that was the way she could rescue her family and, perhaps, herself.
So she packed a single suitcase, lied to her parents about receiving a scholarship at a technical college to study web design and boarded a train bound for Tokyo. Her first few weeks were tough as she was the new kid on the block, with no one looking out for her, but she was approached by a "catch man" young men working for hostess clubs, paid to recruit girls into the clubs from the streets outside the then- infamous department store -- a popular spot for teenage girls and the men who prey on them -- who took her to a nearby McDonalds to explain the business.
I got a cash advance from the manager of the club to buy some new clothes and have my hair and nails done and I was promised that as long as I could get regular customers into the club to buy me drinks, all my financial woes would be a thing of the past," she recalled. Tomikawa's story is not unlike many young girls' who have also fallen foul to the promise of riches beyond their dreams and a movie star lifestyle.