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  • Juju Kurihara

Japan's Sugar Daddy Culture

Last month, a Ukraine-born Karolina Shiino won the Miss Japan title and it became controversy since she was born overseas to non-Japanese parents. And within a month, she returned her title after a Japanese weekly magazine uncovered that she has been in a relationship with a married man.

But this Japanese comedian's comment caught my attention. "Nowadays many young Japanese women polish their Japanese beauty is supported by sugar daddies".

This triggered my memory during the school life. Back then "Enko (援交)" was a topic. Enko is a dating with financial support and young school girls went out with a middle-aged men, sugar daddies. A normal classmate suddenly start having expensive stuff like Loui Vuitton bags or Prada wallets, and you know she is doing Enko. I happened to overhear the conversation of two classmates and knew they were in this kind of relationships. We went to different classes later and I just hoped they were OK and didn't get any emotional damage after.

It seems like they don't call it Enko but Papa-katsu (パパ活/Dad hunting). According to an online dictionary, Papa-katsu means,

Women in their 20s and 30s go out for meals or date with middle-aged men who could be their dads and get paid as allowance. The relationship can include sexual intercourse.

In 2017, TV series Papa Katsu was shown in Japan. The girl who had no where to live decided to register herself in a Papa-Katsu site and met a man who was 25 years older than her. The man let her stay in a apartment he was renting.

"It's a companionship and no sexual relationship" is how Papa-Katsu sells but it seems like this reflects a dark side of the Japanese society. Young women who cannot afford to go to university or cannot find a good job to live independently tend to fall into it. At the first sight it looks safe but in the reality, there are damages and troubles. This could be a crime too.

It was an unfortunate event for the Miss Japan 2024. If she wasn't getting so much attention already, she could have got around like other women. I'm not here to judge her action but the news definitely reminded me the same problem I heard and saw as a school girl. Is sugar daddy phenomenon a human nature?


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