In Japan, sex dolls are known as "Dutch wives" (ダッチワイフ datchi waifu), which now refers to relatively inexpensive dolls. Their name originates from the term, possibly English, for the thick rattan or bamboo bolster, used to aid sleep in humid countries by keeping one's limbs lifted above sweaty sheets. Orient Industry is considered to be the leading manufacturer of high-end silicone dolls in Japan, which started using another term "love dolls" (ラブドール rabu dōru) around 1998 to distinguish their dolls from the image of inflatable dolls associated with the term "Dutch wife". The term has stuck and is now used generally to refer to any high-end product. There is a business, Doru no Mori (Doll Forest) in Tokyo, that rents love dolls and rooms to male customers. In March 2007 the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that there are also rental businesses that bring the dolls to the customer's home, and that the specialist love-doll magazine i-doloid has a print-run of 10,000 copies per issue.
Cheaper sex dolls are inflatable, using air. These dolls, representing the lowest price-range (less than US $75), are usually made of welded vinyl and bear only a passing resemblance to actual people. They have an artificial and typically crudely designed vagina or penis, but due to their affordability many users are willing to overlook their shortcomings. They often burst at the seams after a few uses, although they are commonly given as gag gifts and therefore many may not be used at all. In Russia for some years the Bubble Baba Challenge humorously featured participants river rafting on blowup dolls as a matter of entertainment but in 2013 the race was cancelled on "health and safety" grounds.
The most premium sex dolls are usually made from silicone or thermoplastic elastomer known as TPE. Dolls made of either material can be very lifelike, with faces and bodies modeled on real people in some instances, with realistic skin material (similar to that used for movie special effects), and with realistic (or even real) hair. These dolls usually have an articulated PVC or metal skeleton with flexible joints that allows them to be positioned in a variety of positions for display and for sexual acts. Silicone or TPE dolls are much heavier than vinyl or latex inflatable ones (which consist mostly of air), but are roughly half the weight of a real human being of comparable size.
Another thing to also watch out for is that this type of material is more sensitive, not just to the oils from our skin, but also the fabrics, not just from our clothes but also from doll clothing as well. Because it is sensitive, it often leads the doll to have stains left from clothing, and it is definitely sensitive to certain fabric types as well. This is important to remember, because some of us do like to dress our dolls up, and if you’re wondering if a doll can wear that, then you should check. TPE is porous, and typically if the stain gets on there, it can sometimes have trouble getting out.
Some of the first sex dolls were invented by Dutch sailors in the seventeenth century who would be isolated at sea during long voyages. These masturbatory dolls, referred to by the French as dame de voyage and by the Spanish as dama de viaje, were made of sewn cloth or old clothes and were a direct predecessor to today's sex dolls. The Dutch sold some of these dolls to Japanese people during the Rangaku period, and the term "Dutch wives" is still sometimes used in Japan to refer to sex dolls.
This material is much more popular for many reasons. For starts, the obvious one is that it is much cheaper in terms of price, which is something that many people do consider, since TPE sex dolls are much more affordable, and silicone dolls can often cost a couple thousand dollars more. TPE does require a bit more care than silicone dolls, and they tend to need his in order to last longer, but it’s still a great type of doll to own.