I found this interesting fact in my Twitter stream yesterday morning. My first reaction was, “I call bullshit.” I’ve lived here for over 19 years and not once have I ever heard of condoms being sold door-to-door. In fact, I can’t see why they would be sold that way seeing as how every convenience store I’ve ever bothered to check stocks multiple brands.
But this rumor had to have come from somewhere. At some level it has to be true.
First thing I did was ask one of my coworkers.
“This is probably a stupid question, but there’s really no such thing as コンドームの訪問販売 in Japan, is there?”
“Actually,” she said, “I think I’ve heard of it.”
Shocked. Utterly shocked. How could I have lived here for so long and not known about it?
So I did some Googling. Turns out that 25-30 years ago, roughly half of condoms sales in Japan came from pharmacies, the other half from door-to-door sales. “Skin ladies,” as the saleswomen were called, named after the leading brand “Skinless,” sold them to young married couples by the gross. At that time condom makers weren’t allowed to advertise in print or on TV, and convenience stores weren’t as prevalent, so it starts making sense. This article has the lowdown on the history of the condom in Japan.
On a bit of a tangent note, if sex in Japan is relevant to your interests, check out Jake Adelstein’s Japan Subculture Research Center. I came across it the first time yesterday:
Japan Subculture Research Center was founded in 2007 to expose the hidden side of Japan – its underground economy, its sex trade, and all the other intriguing and seedy aspects that keep the country running.