Monday, January 7 2008

Avoiding confusion

(all vacation entries)
Men's Esute

One of the first pictures I took with the new camera was a view from the tracks at Shinbashi Station. Unfortunately, the context was sufficiently involved that nobody I showed it to got the joke. When I take the print to my Japanese conversation teacher tonight, though, she’ll get a good laugh out of it.

Why? Because a number of the younger Japanese women associated with the department are into Esute, which is a style of beauty parlor in Japan. They love to talk about this stuff, but students who Google “esute” in English will find a lot of sites that are about something very different: massage parlors for men.

It turns out that the sex trade was looking for another euphemism a while back, to compete with “soaplands”, “fashion massage”, “delivery health services”, and the rest, and since massage was one of the services offered at women’s esute parlors, they adopted the name.

As a result, potential customers have to make sure they know what kind of esute a particular shop offers. Both of them will have pictures of fashionable young women out front, and attractive young women working inside. So, when I looked up from the tracks and saw a big sign reading “Otoko no Esute”, I knew what Dandy House was offering.