Why A Public Bath in Kagoshima had to close down? How It Is Related to Gay Men Casual Meet Up in Japan? What is “Hattenba” in Japan?

Why A Public Bath in Kagoshima had to close down? How It Is Related to Gay Men Casual Meet Up in Japan? What is “Hattenba” in Japan?

what happened at the public bath in Kagoshima? and on beach in Fukuoka?

<UPDATED 2024, May>

The closure of a public bathhouse in Kagoshima in early 2023 underscores the challenges facing traditional bathhouse businesses across Japan. Factors such as labor shortages, rising personnel costs, and increasing fuel expenses have contributed to the economic strain on these establishments. However, a notable reason for the closure of this bathhouse was the persistent issue of "nuisance behavior" within the men's bathing area, which had been escalating over the past decade.


Investigative reports by a local television station shed light on the ongoing struggles faced by the bathhouse management in curbing inappropriate activities, particularly instances of sexual encounters taking place within the premises. Despite efforts to address the problem—such as closing off certain areas like the steam sauna and monitoring the pool area—these incidents continued, causing discomfort for regular customers and presenting significant challenges for the management.


The sauna on the second floor emerged as a focal point for such disturbances. Staff members described the situation, stating, "We refer to it as 'nuisance behavior,' but it includes embracing and engaging in indecent acts inside the sauna. The scale of these occurrences is beyond our estimation." Despite measures taken to mitigate the situation, including sealing off certain spaces and compiling a blacklist of individuals involved in misconduct, the problems persisted.


One notable aspect of these incidents was the involvement of elderly individuals, adding to the complexities of addressing the issue effectively. Reporting such offenses to authorities proved challenging without catching perpetrators in the act, highlighting broader societal shifts impacting the traditional culture of communal bathing in Japan.


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In addition to the closure of the bathhouse in Kagoshima, incidents like the one involving 20 nearly naked men near a beach in Fukuoka Prefecture shed light on the concept of "hattenba" within Japan's gay community.


These gatherings, often held in secluded areas like beaches or parks, serve as casual meetup spots for gay men seeking immediate sexual encounters without the need for romantic involvement. We will explain the concept of Hattenba and its risks and also how you can find the hattenba if you are curious.


Is this special to Japan?


Not really.


We heard of similar places “a lot” in many countries. At many occasions, we were told by local friends not to go to saunas there unless intending to... 


We are of opinion that as long as no crime committed and no one unhappy, it should not be a big issue.


Some of our team members who have been in Japan for four decades actually have not heard of this type of news. Why we hear more recently?


Our observation is that the internet often makes these "the problems" in Japan.


Mainly these two reasons from the power of internet.

One: many can know easily where the meet up places - hattenba- are by some web message board which results in increase of the usage of these places for "reasons" and also unnecessary amount of public attention to these places  as we talk about later in this article.


Two: people use SNSs to spread their opinion which tend to be a big wave of public opinion to put, sometimes unreasonable amount of, pressure on the governments and companies to do something about the issue. Sometimes these issues are probably marginal or not serious. (We have a lot of other issues we really need to deal with in Japan).


What is "Hattenba"?

The Concept and Risks


The term "hattenba" or "hattenjo" refers to places where men, including gay men, can engage in immediate sexual encounters with anonymous partners without romantic involvement. These venues are intended for such use and include both paid establishments specifically designed as "hattenba, or usually called Yuryo hattenba (paid meet up venue)" which you find many in big cities, and public spaces like bathhouses, beaches, parks, or public toilets that are repurposed for this activity. The latter (public spaces), reasonably, tends to become issues more and more in Japan.


Such casual encounters, known as "hatten" (or "development"), specifically refer to brief sexual encounters without prior romantic involvement. The term "hattenba" distinguishes between commercial establishments catering exclusively to gay men ("specialized hattenba") and public spaces repurposed for such use ("flow-over hattenba").


According to some sociologist, repurposed spaces intended for general use (often by non-gay individuals) as "flow-over hattenba" can lead to various troubles, including conflicts with facility operators or non-gay users, police intervention, and internal disputes among gay individuals. Unauthorized repurposing of spaces as "hattenba" can even lead to closure due to legal and safety concerns.


Bakusai: A Hub for "Hattenba" Information in Japan


How do gay people meet casually in Japan? Probably the use of app Grindr is increasingly more prevalent like Happy Cow for Vegan people.


But there are many in Japan preferring using a traditional message board.


To locate information on "hattenba" in Japan, websites like Bakusai (爆サイ) serve as key resources. Bakusai is not exclusively focused on "hattenba" but covers a broad range of topics including restaurants, politics, religion, events, and employment across Japan.


爆サイ.com (Bakusai.com) is an electronic bulletin board operated by an undisclosed management company. As of February 2020, it is reported that Aegate Co., Ltd. was operating this site following the arrest of the company president on tax evasion charges.


The site is commonly known as 'Bakusai.'


According to a February 2020 article in the Sankei Shimbun news, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation department arrested Kentaro Takaoka, the president of Internet advertising company 'Aegate,' located in Shibuya, Tokyo, on February 20 on suspicion of corporate tax evasion, among other charges, totaling approximately 59 million JPY. Takaoka is reportedly the brother of actress Saki Takaoka. The company was reported to have operated the Internet free bulletin board 'Bakusai.com,' generating substantial advertising revenue.


The website follows a style where users select purpose-specific bulletin boards subdivided by regions across Japan's prefectures. According to data from SimilarWeb and other sources, it is considered the second most widely used Internet bulletin board in Japan, following 5channel (5ちゃんねる).


For those seeking information on "hattenba," Bakusai provides a platform where details about these casual meetup spots are shared nearly 24/7. However, it's important to note that accessing such information comes with significant risks. These risks include potential exposure to crime, harassment, and health hazards. Users are strongly advised to exercise caution and acknowledge personal responsibility and risks associated with accessing and utilizing this content.


How to use Bakusai to local hattenba? The easiest way is that you go to the website and put key word"ハッテン場" into the search box on the left.


Bakusai website, while providing valuable information on "hattenba," underscores the complex and sometimes risky nature of these casual meetup spots within Japan's gay culture. Despite advancements in technology and the emergence of gay-specific apps for matchmaking, "hattenba" remains a preferred avenue for many seeking immediate encounters in a discreet and anonymous manner.  


What is coming next?


LGBTQ+ has been the important topic for, and even significant part of the culture of, Japan.


We are the strong advocate of diversity in Japan and outside world.

We hope Japan is welcoming more diversity. But at the same time we know Japan is good at not looking at reality and pretend the issue does not exist. we hope the country should be prepared for and straight face the rising issues in the society with effective measures. 


As Japan continues to evolve, these cultural phenomena will likely continue to shape the landscape of public spaces and community interactions, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing the needs and challenges faced by different segments of society.


We are not expert on this. If you know better, please share your experience in Japan.


Source: NNN, TNC, Sankei news, Kagoshima Yomiuri TV, Shueisha, FNN, Wikipedia


<<Where are Boys Love Cafes in Japan? Why Is It so popular?>>

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Source: Irasutoya
Source: Irasutoya

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