My Visit to Tokyo’s Female Masturbation Bar

Love Joule's owner, Megumi, holding my vulva puppet

Love Joule's owner, Megumi, holding my vulva puppet

Like many sex geeks who inhabit the internet, I delighted in reading about the existence of Love Joule, Tokyo’s “female masturbation bar” when it made the rounds on Jezebel, Huffington Post, and Wired back in October. I was especially excited because I had an upcoming trip to Tokyo planned, and any place whose sole purpose is the de-stigmatization of female masturbation was surely going to top my to-do list.

While Love Joule’s website is (not surprisingly) in Japanese, I managed to find their location and opening hours through their Facebook page. Completely coincidentally, Love Joule was a five-minute walk away from my hotel. Call it divine intervention or sex geek synchronicity: given how giant and sprawling Tokyo is, I considered this a sign of awesomeness to ensue.

love joule 1It’s located in the Shibuya neighborhood, which is known for great shopping and nightlife. I found Love Joule’s well-lit sign down a laneway, as well as the easel-style notice board in front of the entrance. Since I don’t read Japanese, I can’t enlighten you as to what it said, but it did help me find my way back through a long, winding hallway to the discreet front door of Love Joule.

At first glance, Love Joule looked more like a living room than a “bar” in the traditional sense, which added to the coziness of the place. When I walked into the Tokyo-apartment-sized space, I first saw the welcoming face of Megumi, the owner and manager, and a few of her patrons (one woman and two of her male companions) seated along the bar chatting and laughing convivially. As I understand the rules, men are only allowed to visit if a woman accompanies them.

Behind Megumi was the famous wall-o’-sex toys I had seen in many of the articles. I noticed a number of Lelo toys and several other higher-end silicone vibrators, Kegel balls, and anal plugs. I should note that no one was actually masturbating – the place seems true to its intentions of being a place to facilitate conversation, rather than on-site stimulation. The guests were young and impeccably dressed, while Megumi was polite, charming, and matter-of-fact in her explanations of the toys.

love joule 2My husband and I were seated on a low, pillow-strewn couch at a table decorated with a fishbowl centerpiece, which was filled with decorative bits and a purple silicone vibrator. “This is so awesome,” I said. Love Joule’s drinks menu is several pages long, and the prices are pretty standard for the area—both admirable qualities considering the situation at some “theme” bars. We puzzled over our options while Megumi talked through the toys on the wall with the other guests, the men seeming as interested as the woman.

We ordered drinks and after a bit, I walked back up to the bar to ask about the toys. Megumi showed me some of the toys, how to turn them on and off, etc. I asked her if they were for sale, and she said “no” but then proceeded to write down the address of a seven-story sex toy store in Akihabara where I could buy them. It became clear that the presence of the toys was to catalyze conversation, not to serve as a commercial venture.

After she had shown me some more toys, I handed her and the other woman my business card. While Megumi nor her guests spoke tons of English, and the majority of my Japanese can be found on a (picture) menu, we managed to understand each other pretty well. They both seemed to understand “sex educator” and “blogger.”

The point at which we really seemed to make a connection was when I pulled my vulva puppet out of my bag. “Sugoi!” they both said, looking pleased and excited. I later learned that this literally means “awful” but as an exclamation means “awesome.” I concur – the vulva puppet and its ability to transcend language barriers is indeed awesome. They both played with it for a bit, seeming amused and delighted at the satin clitoral hood and rosette urethra. I took the photo of Megumi (seen above), modeling the puppet in front of her epic wall of goodies.

love joule 3When we’d finished our drinks and I was done sharing the vulva puppet, we paid our tab and headed towards the door. Megumi, the consummate hostess, came up and offered us each a gift from a fishbowl filled with “Glamorous Butterfly” hot condoms and pink packets of lube (glycerin- and paraben-free, no less). Grateful for our gifts, and after exchanging some deep bows, we left Love Joule and climbed the stairs back to street level.

If you’re ever in Tokyo, it’s definitely worth a visit. Tell Megumi that Kate with the vulva puppet sent you.

About Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs, MPH is a NYC-based sex educator + blogger. She's the founder of Sex Geekdom, a global community for sex educators, researchers, and other folks who love having geeky conversations about sex.