As the old saying goes, there are different strokes for different folks, and all of them were on display at the 13th installment of Japan’s Fetish Festival. The biannual event, commonly known as FetiFes, brings together pornographic models, fans of BDSM, fetish designers, erotic cosplayers, and other kinky people, giving them all a chance to promote their particular brand of unorthodox sexual gratification. I visited the festival in late April to learn what exactly makes Japan tick behind closed doors. This is what I discovered:

There Are Fetishes Out There You Didn’t Even Know Existed

Sexy lingerie might make women look a little bit like French pastries, but it doesn’t mean that people are sexually attracted to literal human cakes. Except for the ones who are, and at FetiFes, they got exactly what they’ve always dreamed of thanks to Ankoku Daimaou Gumi. At the festival, the company organized a show called Human Decoration Cake where scantily clad models posed on a tarp while being decorated with whipped cream and fruit. The event was reportedly as popular this year as the year before, gathering many fans of non-cannibalistic human desserts.

And now for something completely different: cyclops. You’d think that not many people would be attracted to the mythical creatures with just one huge eye, but you would be very wrong about that. A popular table at the festival was occupied by Monpe, a performer portraying a character of a cyclops girl dressed as a sexy nurse. At her side was her equally one-eyed partner Steteko; you know, for the ladies with the inexplicable fetish for men who can’t wear glasses.

Finally, since we are on the topic of body parts, let’s talk about ear cleaning, and how you shouldn’t be surprised that it too is a fetish. At one table, you got to put on a pair of headphones while watching a video of a girl cleaning out a model head’s ears, and with the use of surround sound, the experience kind of felt like actually having your ears attended to by another person. Was it sexy? Not in the traditional sense, but it was admittedly a very intimate experience, which is what most fetishes ultimately boil down to.

Fetish Technology Has Come a Long Way

One of the advantages that VR JCC had over the other companies at FetiFes was that, apart from Monpe, all everyone else had to offer were pictures, videos, and experiences involving regular human women. And where exactly is the variety in that, the company was asking indirectly as they offered you a few intimate minutes with a virtual reality anime girl.

By strapping on a VR headset and groping a plastic balloon torso (though not behind a curtain or anything remotely private like that), festival goers got a chance to interact with VR JCC’s “Anna.” Anna is a VR anime high school girl, also available in a PC and smartphone version, who strips and performs various sexual acts for the headset wearer, all while the groped balloon torso helps make it seem like you are interacting with a real person. Albeit a very squishy and squeaky one.

But while VR JCC focused on stimulating the mind (and … other things), SSI Japan was focused primarily on the nipples with their Nipple Cup and Nipple Dome devices. “As the name suggests,” the company’s representative said, “the Nipple Cup and the Nipple Dome are gadgets for stimulating the nipples via suction and spinning of the plastic tips. By controlling the strength of the devices, you can decide whether you want them to hurt or not. On the lowest setting, they will feel pleasurable, but there are people who enjoy pain, and for them there’s the highest setting.” Or, if the nipple devices are outside their budget, two clothespins would probably work equally well.

BDSM is More Complicated Than You Think

At least four tables at the festival offered different classes in bondage, from Japanese-style shibari to other forms of binding. At first glance, it might seem like nothing more than tying up people in interesting patterns, but there is a real science to BDSM rope play. One of the things I learned is that you should always be mindful of the participant’s hair. It’s apparently easy for an inexperienced binder to tangle someone’s hair in the rope where it can become a knotty rat’s nest that, in severe cases, might require scissors to undo. And there is nothing that makes a BDSM session less sexy than an unscheduled haircut.

Also, proper rope play should apparently always stimulate the erogenous zones on a person’s body without overdoing it because too much pressure on certain spots can lead to pinched nerves. That is why BDSM classes are highly recommended for novices wanting to get into bondage without hurting themselves. Or, at least, without hurting themselves in ways that they haven’t planned for.

A little lower on the BDSM difficulty scale were paddles, whips, and crops, which were sold throughout the festival, but the ones from Egosado in particular caught my attention because of their elegant design. “We sell whips, paddles etc. with Japanese motifs,” one of the representatives explained. “One of our most popular items are bamboo cane whips. People really enjoy the sounds they make. They don’t really hurt that much. They are very stylish, so they’re very popular among women.”

The company’s metal crops, on the other hand, had a slightly different use. Rather than for inflicting pain, they are apparently more often used for stimulating your partner’s skin with the cool metal. Also, as one of the Egosado models demonstrated, the metal crops can also double as a fashionable hair accessory.

With Costumes, It’s Either Full-Body or Basically Nothing

One of the rules of FetiFes is that outright nudity is prohibited, but all this resulted in was models wearing little more than band-aids on their nipples, and underwear the size of eyepatches. There were two very notable exceptions to that at the festival: latex paint “suits” and zentai costumes.

A zentai is a skin-tight costume that covers the entire body and is very popular in fetish and BDSM circles. At the festival, the garment was represented by the Tokyo Zentai Club. As the club’s representative explained: “By wearing zentai, you can become a different person. That’s why they’re also called second skin. Or rather, I should say they allow you to transform yourself into the real you that nobody else knows.”

But if you want to talk about skin-tight, then we have to discuss Shomikigen. The company sold latex paint at the festival, which, when applied, solidified into a plastic-y substance, creating a kind of paint-on clothing. You literally can not get more skin-tight than a full-body catsuit that you literally paint on yourself.

Latex suit