A ‘cuddle café’ and loneliness on the road

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I bet your favorite truck stop doesn’t offer a cuddle café.

This week I stumbled across a report about Soineya, which opened last fall in Tokyo. It purports to cater to lonely, stressed males who would like to cuddle or nap with a lovely, clothed lady, with the understanding that no sex takes place. Sessions last as short as 20 minutes ($40) to all night ($645), according to this posting, which also includes a bizarre video of a masked customer engaged in tame cuddling.

This image comes from the website of the Tokyo sleep services shop Soineya.This image comes from the website of the Tokyo sleep services shop Soineya.

I know, I know, the no-sex aspect sounds naïve. My only response: 1) Every story I’ve read online about this does not dispute that the sex ban is upheld. 2) Even though prostitution is technically illegal in Japan, commercial sex is available in many of the usual ways in the city, so it’s not like some goofy cover is needed to sustain the world’s oldest profession.

Still, you have to wonder … as well as consider an obvious question: Is it relaxing — or terribly frustrating — for a normal man to spend even 20 minutes in bed with an attractive partner who does nothing more than “cuddle”? (Though this paid intimacy, it turns out, can include a la carte items such as giving or receiving a foot massage, “customer pats girl on the head,” staring into each other’s eyes, etc.)

The weird idea of men paying women for companionship that doesn’t involve sex reminds me of comments from two of the women we interviewed for Overdrive’s stories on lot lizards in 2002. Both spoke of lonely truckers just looking for someone to talk with and willing to pay for it. Hardly your typical customers, but a good reminder that sex isn’t the answer for every form of emptiness that haunts men, especially those who spend their working lives alone, far from home.

How do you handle loneliness on the road?


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