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For most of us, the free mixing of men and women in our societies has been around long enough to have become completely ordinary, but in Japan, you may find some unexpected things segregated along gender lines. You’ve probably heard about the women-only train cars and capsule hotels that only allow male customers, for example. Now we have another: a karaoke place that’s just for women.

A new branch of the Osaka karaoke chain Jankara opened last month under the name Joshi Kara (Lady’s Karaoke), and only women are allowed in – and that goes for staff, too.

In addition to room designs that are supposed to appeal to women, the amenities offered include electronic foot massagers, ionizing humidifiers, and a dedicated powder room equipped with everything from cotton buds to hair irons. There’s even a corner with samples of various beauty products.

▼ The chandelier makes it lady-rific.


▼ Make use of the powder room “before your date” or “when taking a break from shopping,” girls!

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Their website also touts an original menu available only at this location.

▼ Da ladeez love cake, amirite?!

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Now, I don’t mean to be too hard on this place. Although they are playing into very retrograde ideas about what appeals to women (pink! shopping! being pretty for her date!), if the testimonials on their site are any indication, there is a customer base for this business. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a nice place to do your makeup and have a piece of cake while singing “My Heart Will Go On”. That actually sounds pretty fun.

But is it really necessary to rely on gender discrimination to provide that space? Karaoke already involves a private room in Japan, so if you want to have a fun night out belting girl-power ballads with just your femmes away from the male gaze, you can already do that.

I can understand why women-only spaces are appealing, particularly in a society like Japan where casual sexism is still well accepted, but I worry that popularizing gender-segregated spaces only reinforces the idea that women are somehow more fragile than men, more in need of special care. I also worry that while these spaces may feel like a refuge from day-to-day sexism, they are also a retreat from co-ed spaces that should be comfortably shared.

Then again, maybe I’m just being overly sensitive and reading way too much into a marketing gimmick, in which case, I’m sure the commenters will let me know.

Images: Jankara