SeekingArrangement recently gathered data to find out the top cities for Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies in various locations around the globe. From India to Mexico and the United Kingdom to Australia, the world’s top Sugar Dating website identified where Sugar Bowl devotees are Sugaring.
As dating varies greatly by area depending on local cultural institutions, traditions and customs, along with the historical past of the area, we were curious if Sugar Dating also varied by location—and our Sugaring Abroad article series was born!
We began our cultural Sugar snapshot with South Africa, where Sugar Baby and SeekingArrangement Brand Ambassador Emma spilled the tea about being an SB in the African continent’s southernmost country. The series then jumped continents to India and Indonesia, exploring the Sugar culture in Southeast Asia.
For our next instalment, we’re traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, a world of geisha and secretive traditions where dating is done a little differently than the rest of the world.
Sugaring Abroad: Japan
For many, the idea of Japan revolves around sushi, Pokémon, anime, and maybe a Tamagotchi toy, however, there are cultural aspects to the country that aren’t often presented in the mainstream western media. Dating and dating lifestyles are two of those, and though things are slowly opening up and becoming more accessible to the English-speaking world, many dating traditions are still completely unique to Japan—and very much a world apart.
A world apart, and yet Japan has been keyed in to the Sugar Dating lifestyle for possibly even longer than anywhere else in the world.
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is home to 2,319 SDs, and 7,561 SBs, all seeking something different in their dating lives, and Osaka, the country’s other main hub, is home to 239 SDs, and 534 SBs.
Dating in Japan is a complicated process. With a cultural emphasis on getting married and having children, there is a very traditional approach to many marriages. It is often contractual, with both partners seeking love and companionship outside of their relationship, and not doing all that much dating before choosing to tie the knot. This is what created the dreamy world of misu-shōbai, or the “water business”—a business that only comes to life at night in the form of bars, clubs and dating cafés.
Sugaring in Japan: Host and Hostess Clubs
Tokyo’s red light district, Kabukichō, is a neon-lit Blade Runner-like mini-city within the metropolis, where after midnight you can find salarymen sleeping in their suits on sidewalks and bars filled with the denizens of Tokyo nightlife, which is open until sunrise.
A late-night stroll around this area will show any newcomer the faces of these host and hostess clubs, which employ beautiful, young people who are paid large amounts of money to entertain wealthy guests in over-the-top, glamorous lounges, often decked out with every possible fake antique mirror or golden statue. Host and hostess clubs are the modern, slightly more hip equivalent of geisha tea houses, or, the early roots of Japan’s Sugar Dating culture.
There is always something slightly impersonal about a client’s relationship with their host or hostess of choice. When the club closes, the glamour fades as the youngest members of the “cast” take out the garbage (usually thousands of dollars’ worth of Champagne bottles) and clean the bathrooms, and the customers return to their taxis and cars. The host-client relationship ends there, until the next Friday night’s douhan, which is a paid date, wherein the customers compensate the hostess or host club for taking the hostess or host out for an extravagant dinner before accompanying him or her to their club.
Such relationships are frequently not physical; the changeable nature of the water business means that customers are there to purchase the image of a relationship, rather than a relationship itself. Both customers and the clubs themselves will frequently disappear from one night to the next; closing down, and reopening—nothing is set or stable.
Sugaring in Japan: Papa-Katsu and Mama-Katsu
Due to the need for something more personal, papa-katsu and mama-katsu were born.
These terms loosely translate to “seeking a papa” and “seeking a mama”—or Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mommas. This form of dating involves elite, VIP dating houses that introduce wealthy papa-katsu and mama-katsu to potential Sugar Babies. Though recently, with the growing popularity of these kinds of relationships, everything from apps to dating sites have begun cropping up to feed the growing demand for Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies/Mommas.
One Japanese Sugar Baby who chose to remain anonymous, 27, elaborated: “There are arrangements called papa/mama-katsu, which [have] exactly the same meaning as Sugar Dating. It [has been] quite popular among young women in Japan for the last few years.”
Sugaring in Japan: The Lifestyle
Another anonymous Sugar Baby also noted: “I think other women are probably the same, but some women show off their rich life on Instagram. Everybody [guesses] that she [has a] Sugar Daddy lol.”
However, when asked about the social stigma that still exists with regard to these alternative relationships, the Sugar Baby said that “discretion is a must because it’s not socially acceptable.” She added that she’s not open about her Sugar Dating lifestyle. “Only my close friends know that I’m on Seeking Arrangement.”
Because of the need for discretion, and also perhaps because the Sugar Dating lifestyle was originally based in the host/hostess and geisha traditions—which are financial interactions more than personal ones—another anonymous Sugar Baby gave us some insight on how her Sugar Relationship is structured.
“In my experience, I mostly get financial support. Sometimes there are gifts and such, but an allowance is the basis [of the financial support ],” she says. It is probably the same for the other girls. It takes money to live in the city. I can’t continue a relationship with anyone but a Sugar Daddy who can understand that.”
While at first it might seem somewhat unromantic to have this be a set basis for a Sugar Relationship, in Japan, this financial agreement creates a sense of security for both the Sugar Baby and Sugar Daddy. Japan is a country that likes to have things compartmentalized Much in the way even people in the street will never cross the road on a red light, or will line up in a perfectly formed queue before getting into a crowded train, there is a certain method to life there. At the heart of Japanese dating culture, the need for order and organisation is as prevalent as it is in every other facet of Japanese life.
Sugaring in Japan: Embracing One’s Preferences and Diversity in Relationships
It seems that in recent years, too, the serene, poised exterior of Japanese life has been hiding a slightly more spicy underbelly—Sugar Dating has opened the doorway for many Sugar Daddies and Sugar Babies to explore their more adventurous sides, giving the men and women of Japan a way to embrace their own unique preferences with like-minded people. Diversity is not something that has been ordinarily praised in Japanese culture—as the saying goes: “the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.”
When asked about what was unique of her experience in the Japanese Sugar Bowl, another anonymous Sugar Baby added, “This is my experience, but I’ve taken part in some BDSM. I got to have experience with being in the dominant role. The submissive men call me ‘my dominant’ and always say they want to be dominated mentally and physically.”
In a place where gender roles are still very closely observed, and where men live to work and be the powerful breadwinners of their families, this would be considered extremely unconventional.
Sugar dating is a way for people to connect with others who have aligning needs in a relationship, and in Japan, this is a novelty that does not appear to be losing its allure any time soon. From the glamorous host and hostess clubs of Kabukichō and Ginza and the age-old geisha houses in Kyoto, to the schoolgirl and maid cafés of Akihabara—and now, to the world of online Sugar Dating—Japan is embracing this alternative lifestyle as a way to express individuality, and to find a unique kind of romance in a world that has, until recently, emphasized fitting in and following the rules.
Enjoying all the Sugar Dating stories, advice and tips, and curious about jumping into the Sugar Bowl yourself? Create a FREE profile on SeekingArrangement today and start experiencing the advantages of empowered dating and mutually beneficial relationships!