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Pop Culture in Japan: Salarymen and soaplands

The dark-suited salaryman is generally a clerical office worker, although the term is applied to many other types of jobs. Guaranteed lifetime employment and steady promotion, Japan's corporate warriors during the boom years of the 1960s through to the 1980s only had to watch out for karoshri: death from overwork. Nowadays, the fear is more of their company announcing a "restructuring", a polite way of saying there will be redundancies.

Although it's perhaps not discussed as openly in Japan as in the West, sex generally comes with less hang-ups for the Japanese. One place a frisky salaryman might turn to for relief is a soapland, or massage parlour where the rubbing and other services are carried out by women under the guise of a Turkish bath. Soaplands were once called Turkish baths until the Turkish embassy complained that this was insulting to their wholly honourable bathing practices.

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