Japan opens its first ‘cuddle cafe’, and it’s as weird as you think

Who wants a cuddle? How about a slap in the face?

If you answered yes and you're in Tokyo, you're in luck, because a new shop called Soineya is offering both cuddles and slaps — for a price.

According to ABC News, the new specialty shop charges 9,000 yen to snuggle with a girl for one hour in a bed-sized cubical. The shop's proprietor says there is no sex — it's simply an opportunity to cuddle with one of the shop's young women. According to the manager, they are all between 17 and 25, though the reporter who visited described one of the cuddlers as appearing "no more than 15."

And while there's no sex on offer, for a little extra there is a menu of additional services to enhance the cuddling experience. For about $13, the cuddler will put on a costume — there are school uniforms, and a Sailor Moon outfit. If a client wants a particular girl, that's also extra.

Also see: Brazilian woman auctions off virginity for $780,000

Some of the other extras are more surprising.

The man can sleep with his head in the girl's lap — apparently a very popular add-on — but at the steep price of $13 for every three minutes. Getting or giving massage is also extra, as is petting the head or holding hands.

One rather intense option is to start the cuddle session by staring into one another's eyes for a full minute, and at a cost of $13.

And remember that slap? Yup, getting slapped in the face is something that people will apparently pay money for, with each slap priced at $13. (If that sounds expensive, it's a steal compared to the face-slapping services of "Tata", a Thai-American woman who will slap your wrinkles away for the tidy sum of $350).

If this all seems a little odd and like something that could only have been dreamt up by the people that came up with square watermelons and panty vending machines, you're wrong, because apparently the manager got the idea after reading about The Snuggery -- a snuggle service based right here in North America.

Also see: The Snuggery: Woman hopes to make a living cuddling you for $60 an hour

New Yorker Jackie Samuel operates The Snuggery out of her Penfield home, and charges $60 an hour for a snuggle session. She says there is never any nudity or sexual activity, and that the goals are comfort and relaxation. Since opening earlier this year, Samuel has hired a second snuggler, "Colleen", and now offers "The Double Cuddle", which is pretty self-explanatory.

"What I find fascinating is that this is something that wasn't commodified earlier," says Brenda Cossman, director of the Bonham Centre for sexual diversity studies at the University of Toronto.

She points out that we're perfectly fine with paying to get therapy, or a massage, or a treatment at a spa — all very intimate and personal experiences.

"You can get your body rubbed, wrapped, scrubbed and plucked, so why not sleeping?" says Cossman. "We think that who you sleep with is not something you should commodify, because it's getting too close to sex."

She says it makes sense that people would pay for this service — everyone has different needs.

"People have different ways that they like to sleep and different needs for emotional contact," says Cossman. "Here it's just separating that touch from sex."

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