We stood in a semicircle around the young assistant as he explained the rules. In a very serious tone with hands folded behind his back, the assistant went through a litany of do's and dont's. The other men around me nodded solemnly or fidgeted with the very expensive cameras hanging around their neck. I just grinned stupidly because, not speaking a word of Japanese, I didn't understand a bit of it.
It is amazing what Google Translate
and a little guesswork can get on the Internet these days. After booking our flight to Japan
, my wife and I had begun picking out things to do in our week in the Land of the Rising Sun. Naturally, my love of all things "adult" led me to some interesting web pages. I found a blog dedicated to sex tourism
around the world (outside of the typical Amsterdam
jokes, I didn't know this was actually a thing). Sifting through the entries for Tokyo
, one immediately caught my eye. An organization called Star Cats (?, who knows if this is a legitimate translation) maintained a handful of studios in the city where patrons could participate in photo shoots with JAV stars. Essentially, 70 bucks pays for an hour where a small group of amateur photographers are provided professional lighting equipment, a set, and one model (from the Japanese adult film industry, no less) to take as many photos as possible.
For the dedicated fan, 90 bucks gets 90 minutes (instead of the initial 60) as well as personal photographs with the model and individual autograph time. A third option is also available where, for 300 bucks, the model offers a private photo session with one person. Since my wife (understandably) had decided one of the souvenirs she did not want to bring home was herpes, my first pick of visiting a soapland had already been discarded. This seemed like a fun second pick. I would still be able to do something outrageous that would never be so publicly available here in the Bible Belt, I would get to meet a legitimate JAV star, and I would satisfy my constant shutterbug craving. After all, my wife and I already had some experience with this kind of photography.
Reserving a session through e-mail proved humorous. I will give Google credit, it might have been clunky, but that piece of software allowed me to set the whole thing up. Early on, it became clear that I spoke zero Japanese, and the person handling the reservation on their end spoke about the same amount of English. Just as I began celebrating my cleverness at pulling this off, I received a potential snag via e-mail. The reservation must be confirmed by phone three days prior to arrival. Thankfully, the one Japanese speaker I know (a stay-at-home mom-of-two friend of ours from the past) handled this part, jokingly assuring me that everything was set up with my "booby lady".
But now, in a small room growing increasingly hotter from the massive photo lights and nervous energy of several Japanese men and one much taller Gaijin, I began to think that my language deficiency would be problematic. Sure, I had missed the rules, but how complex could it be? I imagined it went something along the lines of "Don't touch the model, don't be a dick." However, when my fellow photographers circled up and began what appeared to be a game of rock-paper-scissors, I had no idea what to do. Apparently they were deciding who would sit on the front row with the model first. Realizing my confusion, they tried to bring me into the game. I don't know what they were playing, but I don't think "rock" was a legal play on my part. I moved to the back.
Here's the thing about adult stars in the U.S., regardless of how fair or accurate it is, when people think of the big names, the household names like Jenna Jameson or Bree Olson or whoever is popular these days, a list of adjectives comes to mind. This list might include busty, uninhibited, curvy, tattooed, etc. but it almost never includes the word innocent. When the model at my Japanese photo shoot came out to greet us, my first impression was "But she is so cute and innocent looking!". She looked like someone who might blush at holding hands, or kiss you good night on the cheek those first few dates. Needless to say, I was unfamiliar with her ouevre (more on this later).
What became quickly apparent, however, was that I was alone in being unfamiliar with Shiori Kamisaki. Her appearance among us created visible happiness among the other men. All middle-aged and equipped with an impressive array of cameras and lenses, their grins overcame the typical Japanese reserve. This is when I realized I had made a second error. I had assumed that the patrons of the studio would most likely be like me (though shorter, and with better manners) and doing this as an interesting side event worthy of a round of beers with the guys back home (whether that be Osaka or Alabama). But no, these men were fans.
After each of us getting a few photos standing with Shiori (so small and cute!), a table had been placed with two chairs so that each man had one-on-one autograph time with her. These men loved Shiori. No mere tourists from outside the city, they were repeat visitors. Generally the models only did one or two days per month with the agency. But as they pulled out the autograph books, photo albums, DVDs, and framed magazines featuring Shiori, I could see that the man standing next to me had been here at least six times before with her. And they had brought gifts.
As each man happily stepped up to the table and handed over their gift, Shiori would spend several minutes in conversation while ooohing and aaahing over her presents. Now I became seriously embarrassed. Not only did I neglect to bring a gift (this was way more personal than I expected) but I hadn't even brought an item to be autographed. Normally my play here would be to try and charm away the awkwardness through conversation, but I didn't feel like my command of Tokyo subway station names provided enough material to save me.
When everyone else finished their turn, Shiori leaned to the side and searched the room. Spotting me hiding in the back, she smiled and motioned me forward. With a red face I could only shrug and give her my best "Please forgive me for being an idiot Westerner" look. Realizing my predicament, she began addressing the group and one of the more fervent fans quickly searched his bag and produced a piece of very nice autograph board bound in decorative foil. In one of the many displays of Japanese politeness during our time in the country, he offered it to me with me with a deep bow. Shiori smiled and thanked him profusely, which in turn reddened his face. Of course, I could not make polite chitchat as the others had done, but she could say "name" in English, and now I have this autograph board on the desk beside me.
After a quick break, Shiori returned, stood in the middle of the lights as we created three rows of seated, kneeling, and standing photographers, and began striking poses. My face barely contained my grin as I happily forgot any awkwardness and clicked away with everyone else. As innocent as she appeared, Shiori clearly knew how to pose for a sexy photo. We work through a progression of standing, sitting on the couch, and relaxed on the floor poses. Every few minutes the front row would move to the rear as those behind them moved forward so that everyone got a chance for a good shot. Shiori smiled and laughed and clearly enjoyed playing with the poses, and all the guys ate it up like candy. She knew how to work a room and exuded a sense of confidence not originally apparent. After 30 minutes we took a second short break, and she returned in a small bathing suit.
Based on the original sex tourism blog post, I expected the final poses to be fully nude. However, I soon realized that either this particular model did not do full nude shots or, in my cumbersome use of Google Translate, I had signed up for the wrong session. Based on what my wife and I found later, I think the second scenario is most likely. And it didn't matter, because everyone had a blast. With a final series of bows and applause, Shiori returned to the dressing area. As I collected my lenses, I noticed that most of the participants continued to mill about the room. They had paid for the following session as well. The guys were definitely fans. But I had a limited time remaining in country, and a lot left to do and see, so I once again thanked my autograph rescuer and left the building. I couldn't stop grinning down all three flights of stairs.
Later in the week I made several efforts to locate one of Shiori's JAV movies. This turned out to be much less easy than expected. The stores were sold out. Shiori, under that innocent demeanor, is a very dirty and very popular girl. On our last day, as we walked to the train station, I dove into a final store and found a copy of one of her movies. It seemed to be some kind of compilation of many different scenes from her other films. Laughing with my wife, I stuck it in the bag and headed west.
Tired, ragged, and trying to recover from 40 hours of travel halfway around the world, we sat in the floor a few nights later as Shiori's movie loaded on the screen. Sure enough, it opened with the same smiling, innocent face I remembered from the photo shoot. But then things went south, and I do mean literally. In minutes, Shiori had some junior grade Yakuza bent upside down on his neck, tail in the air, and blindfolded. My wife and I shouted "No, no, no!" with increasing volume as Shiori's sinless smile descended to the man's anus. No prudes ourselves, yet we couldn't come to terms with the dissonance of her cute appearance and hard-core reality.
Later, looking at one of the photos I had taken of Shiori, my wife said, "You wouldn't think she was an ass licker, to look at her."
Maybe not, but I still grin every time I think about our photo session.