When the flame of love was finally extinguished between him and his wife, Masayuki Ozaki made an unusual decision to fill his void. He bought a silicone doll that became, he says, the love of his life.
Mayu, life-sized and with a very realistic look despite her vacant gaze, shares her bed in the family home in Tokyo, where her wife and teenage daughter also live.
“After my wife gave birth, we stopped making love and felt a deep loneliness,” says this 45-year-old physiotherapist.
“I read an article in a magazine on the subject of these dolls and went to see an exhibition, it was a crush,” sighs Ozaki, who walks Mayu in a wheelchair, puts on wigs, dresses her and gives her jewelry.
“When my daughter understood that she was not a giant Barbie doll, she was afraid and thought it was disgusting, but now she is old enough to share clothes with Mayu,” she explains.
“Japanese women have a hard heart,” he says, as he walks the doll across a beach. “They are very selfish, whatever my problems may be, Mayu, she is always here, I love her with madness and I want to be with her forever, to be buried with her, I want to take her to paradise.”
Like him, many men in Japan have this type of doll, called “rabu doru” (love doll), especially widowed and disabled, and do not see them as mere sexual objects but as beings with souls.
“My heart beats a thousand times per hour when I return home with Saori,” says Senji Nakajima, 62, as he leaves the picnic with his silicone partner.
“I would never cross my mind to deceive her, or with a prostitute, because for me she is human”, explains this businessman, married and father of two children.
Yoshitaka Hyodo, the blogger of 43 years, has more than 10 these dolls. He also has a girlfriend, flesh, and blood, apparently quite understanding.
“Now it’s more to communicate on an emotional level,” says this man, also a fan of military objects, surrounded by plastic women, whom he saw as a soldier.
A craft activity
Some 2,000 silicone dolls are sold every year in the Japanese archipelago, according to industry professionals. Equipped with a removable head and vagina, they are worth about 5,300 euros (just over 6,000 dollars).
“What we call with pomp ‘the industry’ of the dolls of love is a niche artisan activity,” writes the anthropologist Agnès Giard, who in 2016 dedicated a book to this phenomenon and its history in Japan.
The first appeared in 1981. The silicone version, after vinyl and latex, is from 2001.
“Technology has made great progress since the horrible inflatable dolls of the 1970s,” explains Hideo Tsuchiya, director of Orient Industry, one of the Japanese manufacturers. “Now they look incredibly authentic and you have the sensation of touching human skin, and more and more men buy them because they have the impression they can communicate with them.”
Already in the seventeenth century, in fictional stories cited by Agnès Giard, men commissioned dolls from craftsmen who resembled their beloved, from whom fate had separated them.
Far from these pink tales, Riho, Ozaki’s wife, tries not to think about the artificial being that occupies her husband’s room. “I limit myself to housework,” she says, with tears in her eyes, “dinner, cleanliness, clothes.”
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