You visit Japan for the ramen, the sushi, the temples and the sakura blossoms.
Or if you'd like something a little more risqué, you can check out their porn stores. There's pretty much one in every district.
That's because Japan's AV (adult video) scene is big. By GQ's estimates, it's worth $20 billion. It pumps out 4,000 videos a month, employs 10,000 AV idols, and produces twice the X-rated material than the U.S. does. You've probably seen ~some~ of these 10,000 performers. Some of you may have even met one already (thanks, Maria Ozawa).
We can now say though that we've met two.
During a recent trip to Japan, we visited the country's capital for anime, videogames, and electronics, Akihabara. Apparently, it's also a center for Japan's idol culture, both of the hardcore variety and the cutesy non-X-rated type. We got a firsthand taste of the former.
We visited a place called "MIS Akihabara," a five-storey AV mecca, located in an inner street just a corner or two away from the district's main avenue. There, we bought a newly-released DVD of an actress known as Shoko Akiyama for Y2,980 (P1,225). Along with the DVD, the store clerk handed out a ticket with three empty boxes. He stamped one box. If you buy two items, he'll stamp two; three if you buy three. More stamps equal more perks when you finally meet the idol who was waiting at the building's fifth floor.
By the time we arrived, the end of the line was already on the first floor. The queue was situationed at the building's stairwell, which was so narrow that only two people will fit side by side on each step. By our estimate, there were around 80 people in there—79 Japanese, and one Filipino. You can't see the actual walls at this point because every inch seemed to be covered by AV posters—some are mere beauty shots of the performers, some a lot more in-your-face, and a few that were literally in-her-face.
If you have a friend who has some sort of sex phobia or fear of breasts or censored genitalia, absolutely bring them here.
If they have ADHD, don't. There's little room to move. And everyone is absolutely wordless. In the one-and-a-half hours we waited, no one spoke. It was less "Dude, we're meeting Shoko Akiyama!" and more like a solemn, religious ritual. The only thing preventing complete silence: the persistent, high-pitched moaning from a DVD playing somewhere in the store. Sometimes you aren't even sure it's the DVD and you wonder: "Oh dear, am I in the correct line? What if this is the line for some sort of porn audition?" Every 10 or 15 minutes, the line would move by four or five people. It was a test of patience.
After some time, we reached the final flight of stairs. Through the door, three men sat on their chairs, preparing their cameras. The sound of cameras snapping came from inside the room.
Apparently, you not only get to have your DVD signed, you also get to have a one-minute photoshoot with the AV idol. You don't shoot solo though. You shoot with two other guys simultaneously. For each pose, the idol faces the guy on the right, then the middle guy, then the guy on the left. Then she does another pose, and repeats the routine. You shoot when she's facing you, and you're not supposed to just go shooting full-blast with your camera like a mad man.
Here's one of our shots:
Unfortunately, that's the only one we can post because the site that lists these AV events prohibits the commercial use of these images. We're relying now on the goodness of their hearts to allow us this one kawaii photo.
After the quick photoshoot, she signed the DVDs, and off we went. Those who got two stamps get to have their photo taken with the actress while those who got three stamps get to have a one-on-one photoshoot with her.
So how can you find one of these events, in case you're in Japan?
1) Check this site: http://www.av-event.jp/user_data/evelt/
2) Use Google Chrome so you can have the site translated to English.
3) Once translated, you can now easily find the venue (there's a map in there) and the event details.
4) Go to the event.