Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Ureshino Hihokan part 2


This is the second part of a post on the Ureshino Museum of Hidden Treasures, a curiously 1980s Japanese take on a sex museum. Once fairly common in hot spring resorts, most have now closed down. This one in Ureshino, Saga, in Kyushu, closed its doors in 2014. The first part focussed mostly on fertility shrines.

The largest display was this tableau supposedly representing a Roman orgy. Many of the tableaux were what was called "animatronic" back in the 80's, that is to say, they moved, usually by small electric motors. However, dwindling numbers of visitors have meant no budget to maintain the displays.

A curious one showed Superman engaged in love-making while suspended over a bed. He had bright red hair, I suspect to avoid lawsuits.

There was very much an atmosphere of "peep show". In this one a crab pulled off the towel covering a buxom beachgoer to reveal her genitals. Most curious was that pubic hair was visible, a major taboo in Japan at that time.

Some of the displays depicted obviously foreign figures, while others were very traditional Japanese.... a samurai making love with a woman, a young woman stepping out of a hot spring, a prostitute welcoming a customer,.... a young maiden bent over picking tea in the hillsides of Ureshino....

Sexuality, nudity, what constitutes the erotic and pornographic, are all very much cultural constructions that vary across different cultures, and what was on display here was a curious mix that reflected Japan in the 80s.

There was nothing particularly "seedy", in fact to my mind it was very kitschy.

Other unusual exhibits included a replica of a "telephone club", or terekura as they were known. Long before the advent of cell phones and the internet, terekura were found in the entertainment districts of Japanese cities, and in them male customers would pay for access to small booths with phones connected to women with a view to making arrangements to meet up.

The other curious exhibit was not really a replica, rather it was an actual branch of a local lingerie store.


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