Review: Studio First — Tokyo, Japan
In May, 2014, I published a review of a photo club in Tokyo called Starcats where people could go to take pictures of Japanese porn actresses for a fee. I noted at the time that there were at least three other shops operating in the same way. In the time since my review of Starcats went online the place stopped hosting photoshoots. Some of the other photo clubs I referred to in the review have also closed. The Starcats website is still online however and it lists upcoming photoshoots at other photo clubs around town rather than events of its own.
Many of the photo clubs open now are actually associated to one another. Starcats.jp links to at least two. The Management at Studio First seems to be more open to foreign customers than Jasmine. It does require a little Japanese to book an appointment at Studio First but with enough effort even some gaijin unable to utter a complete sentence in the local language could probably do it.
Booking a photo session requires membership. Customers must contact the shop by phone or email in advance to make an appointment to sign up for that though it is easier than it might sound. They simply arrive at the date and time specified and fill out a paper with their name and sign another that says they understand the rules. Then they are given a membership card that makes it easy to book appointments by phone or email in the future. The website is constantly updated and shows which women will be at the club on each day. It also shows an hourly schedule breakdown for each session and indicates which time blocks are open and which are already booked. Customers have to pay for any session they book at least three days before it takes place. If they fail to do that they will forfeit their slot. Customers can book and pay for their first appointment in person when they go to sign up for their membership if they know who they want to shoot.
There are women at Studio First nearly every day. On many days there are multiple women. The Studio First schedule seems to be a lot busier than Starcats ever was. This may be a result of an economic downturn in the industry or it may just be a result of Studio First being a popular place that knows how to do business. Most of the models are AV actresses. Some are famous and others are less well known. Some other women including amateur models also show up on the schedule with regularity.
Once customers book and pay for an appointment all they need to do is show up with a camera. Basic point and shoot cameras are permitted along with totally professional DSLR rigs but mobile phones can’t be used. The club has a professional camera for rent but it must be booked at the time as the appointment.
Studio First is within walking distance of Akihabara Station. It isn’t the easiest place in the world to find but it can be located without much issue with the help of the map on the shop’s website. The club is very discreet. It’s on the ground floor of one small building among many. It’s fronted by a series of nondescript white glass doors and the only indications that the shop is even there are the street number and a small white paper sign stuck to the door that says “Studio First.” One of the white glass doors open to a very small make shift lobby that is about the size of a hallway in a Western house. Customers take off their shoes and wait on one of the smalls stools there until a manager takes them back to one of several rooms where the photography takes place.
The photography rooms are large and spacious. They are decorated to look like a Japanese woman’s bedroom but they are probably a lot more sparse than most female sleeping quarters in the land of the rising sun. At least one professional lamp and reflector are provided in each room along with the standard bed and chair. Once customers are introduced to the model they are shooting they are left alone in total privacy though they are of course expected to follow the rules.
Customers are allowed to shake hands with models at the beginning and end of each appointment. No other touching is allowed. Conversation is totally permitted and seems welcomed by the models though many customers are either shy or so serious about their hobby that they don’t say much. Those that do converse can sometimes be heard through the thin walls between each room but it is not intrusive at all.
The models start fully dressed and customers are allowed to direct the models during the session. Most models will get fully nude and try most reasonable positions but things don’t go any further than that. There are definitely no toys laying around or anything like that. Studio First sells photography sessions not hardcore porn shoots. Some models allow customers to take video of them and some do not. This information is indicated on the webpage along with their willingness to get nude and pose. When video recording is allowed it usually requires a few thousand yen more than the regular price.
Rates for the appointments vary with the model. When popular porn stars schedule a date to shoot the rate is high and the slots fill up quick. Some unknown models charge less and may never sell all of their available time slots. The most popular models often come back to the club so those who miss out on a particular day may have another chance in the future.
Time slots last forty-five minutes. Prices for each slot range from 12,000 Yen ($99 USD) to 30,000 Yen ($249 USD) or more. The most common rates seem to be between 13,000 and 15,000 Yen. As is the norm in Japan customers get what they are promised and are not shorted on time. That also means that time appointments cannot run long. When the session is over the manager will knock on the door and the customer is expected to quickly rap things up and head out the door.
As luck would have it I was able to book an appointment with Japanese porn newcomer Nagayama Mizuho a few months ago. Since my photography skills are moderate at best I wasn’t really able to capture how good Mizuho-chan looked in person but I imagine that readers will be interested in seeing some of the shots that resulted from the session nonetheless. The following are only a few of the many pictures taken during the appointment.
If I had the proper venue I would release more shots from the set. Alas the world will have to settle for the beauty of my words for now. Or maybe not. Nagayama Mizuho plays a staring in role in three porn movies released this year that show her in a better light than I could ever hope to.
In her debut “Shy Slender Tiny-Titted Beauty” she plays an alluring Akihabara maid cafe worker that gets introduced to sex on film in a serious way. “Prim, Proper, Pretty College Girl With Nice Tits Who Wants To Be A Model Makes A Nasty Porn Video” is a little more self explanatory. In her most recent release “The Teacher and Me After School” Miss Nagayama plays a naughty school girl in the way that only a woman of her sexy stature could. Watching is rarely as good as doing but in this case both are quite fine.
While someone on a quest for pure physical pleasure may find no redeeming features in a place where customers can’t touch more than a woman’s hand I think there is room for all sorts of setups in the vast landscape that is human sexuality. As they say, “different strokes for different folks.” I would add that sometimes different strokes also work well for the same folks when they are looking for some variety. I could add something about the spice of life here but one cliche is enough for now.
Studio First is a nice place with a good management team that welcomes foreign customers under the right conditions. I have come to appreciate the photo club model which seems to be unique to Japan. It is another form of entertainment that fits in well with everything else and the people at Studio First do it very well. I give the place a solid four stars.
Studio First. Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan. Open during photo sessions which are listed on the site. Phone: 03-6806-0276. Website: http://studio-first.net Map on site.