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With a title like this, it is surprising the book did not sell more copies when it was first published in 1991, but Bornoff’s study, at over 700-pages, will disappoint readers expecting instant titillation. Scholarly in the depth of its research methods and the sheer scope of its coverage, the author explores the means and instruments for achieving erotic pleasure in Japan. The mechanisms for carnal fulfillment may have been adjusted to accommodate new tastes, but they remain largely intact.

Meticulously explaining the stage sets, props and services provided by the sex trade in Japan — the violent porno manga; adult video market; suggestive late-night TV; the function of present-day geisha; the historical embodiment of the sensual in the form of Edo Period (1603-1868) courtesans; ancient, still faithfully honored fertility rites; sex cults; strip joints; and the patronage of love hotels — the author finds time, and space, to deliberate on family life, marriage and love in a society defined as both conservative and permissive.

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