When the spark with his wife disappeared, Masayuki Ozaki bought an unusual replacement: a silicon doll.
Ozaki says the dummy, which ‘lives’ under the same roof as his wife and teenage daughter in Tokyo, is now the love of his life.
The 45-year-old is one of an increasing number of Japanese men, turned off by human relationships, that are turning to ‘rubber romance’, report AFP.
“After my wife gave birth we stopped having sex and I felt a deep sense of loneliness,” Ozaki told the news agency.
“But the moment I saw Mayu in the showroom, it was love at first sight,” added the physiotherapist, who takes the doll out in a wheelchair and dresses it in wigs, dresses and jewellery.
“When my daughter realised it was not a giant Barbie doll, she freaked out and found it disgusting – but now she’s big enough to share Mayu’s clothes.”
Around 2,000 of the life-like dolls – which cost $6,000 (5,252 euros) and come with adjustable fingers, removable head and genitals – are sold each year in Japan, according to industry insiders.
“Japanese women are cold-hearted,” he said. “Mayo is always there, I love her madly and want to stay with her forever.”
Like Ozaki, many men who possess such dolls in Japan do not see them as merely sexual objects, but beings with a soul.
“Technology has made great strides since the horrible inflatable dolls of the 1970s,” said Hideo Tsuchiya, director of Orient Industry, a Japanese manufacturer. “They look incredibly real now and you feel like you’re touching human skin. More and more people are buying them because they feel they can communicate with them.”
“My heart flutters when I go home to join Saori,” says Senji Nakajima, 62, another doll devotee. “She never betrays me, she makes my worries melt away.”
Nakajima’s relationship with Saori has divided his family, but the Tokyo-born businessman refuses to give her up.
“My son accepts it, my daughter can’t,” said Nakajima, whose wife has banned Saori from the family home.
Hyodo, a military buff who lives alone but has an understanding girlfriend, owns more than 10 life-size dummies – many of which he dresses in combat uniform to play out wartime fantasies.
But he claims to have cut down on doll sex.
“It’s more about connecting on an emotional level for me now,” said the 43-year-old blogger, whose curiosity was piqued at a young age when he found a charred mannequin in the street.
“People might think I’m weird, but it’s no different than collecting sports cars. I don’t know how much I’ve spent but it’s cheaper than a Lamborghini,” he said.