Tokyo: Host clubs and hostess bars

Tokyo is extreme in many ways, but I particularly find the relation between the genders very different from anywhere else. At most business hotels (budget hotels), there is an illustrated call girls catalog the size of a phonebook placed on the bedside table, and in areas such as Shinjuku, Roppongi and Akasaka, there is a hostess club on every corner.

A hostess bar is a kind of modern, geisha house, to where businessmen can take their clients for a couple hours of (very expensive) entertainment. The women working at the hostess bars are often paid based on how many drinks their customers buy, so the more drinks the customers order “for the ladies” the more the hostesses earn. At the hostess bars, flirting, conversation and entertainment is usually in focus, and there are very strict rules on how a hostess should behave. Officially (and legally), she is under no circumstances allowed to have sex with a customer. However, especially non-Japanese hostesses have a reputation of not caring too much about these terms in the job description.

There are also host clubs, where the roles are reversed and women can buy themselves some male company for an hour or two. Large, illuminated screens outside the clubs are showing pictures of young, Japanese men along with a price list, to make it easy to evaluate whether there is something (or someone?) that suits your taste.

 In contrast to hostess clubs, only very few host clubs offer English speaking hosts, but I guess the demand is also limited. Personally, I would find it beyond awkward to spend ¥ 10,000 or more for a skinny young Japanese guy with a pineapple haircut to laugh at my bad jokes, but maybe I’m just being old-fashioned…..

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