Musings about Japan and life as a human, a cosplayer, a minority, a music lover, an English teacher.

A slice of the nightlife in Kabukicho

So…ever heard of a host club?

That’s where I went last Tuesday near the end of winter break. As I mentioned a while ago, hosts and host clubs were the focus of my research paper for my Japanese Society class. My plan was to walk around Kabukicho and observe some hosts, and maybe interview some former hosts to find out what they thought about this kind of work.

Here’s the basic idea of what a host club is: A place where young gentlemen are paid to cater to women. Here’s a wiki article about host clubs if you want some more details.

So what was I doing here? Research, of course. My interview fell through so I decided at the last minute that I had to do SOMETHING…so I actually went to a host club, thanks to a friend I met a few weeks earlier. I wanted to find out why a lot of women get hooked on hosts and host clubs, knowing that the affection and love they are given is, for the most part, fake. In addition, host clubs are VERY expensive. Spending thousands of dollars in one night is not unusual here. (Before anyone starts to get concerned, I only spent 3000 yen–a little over $30–that night. This was the fee for first-time customers.)

I met several hosts that night, talking about being an exchange student, my hobbies, etc. I was kinda of nervous (okay, REALLY nervous) because I was in a room with a lot of attractive, older guys, trying to communicate with my bad speaking skills. But they were really patient with me, and very kind. I thought they would be more forward and perhaps a bit seductive, but that wasn’t the case at all; they were friendly and funny.

At the end of the night, I was asked if I had chosen a host. It was difficult at first because I didn’t feel enthusiastic about any of them, until I met the last host. I won’t mention his name (some of you might know it already) but he was pretty cool. He was really interested when I told him I play bass guitar, and when I told him that I liked Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (I said the Japanese title, 逆転裁判, of course), he was surprised. Apparently he likes the game too ^_^. He’s 19 years old, and even though I JUST turned 20 a little over a month ago, I still think it’s cute that he’s younger ♥

I didn’t plan on choosing a host, or even going to the club again, but I’m curious, I admit. (Curiosity kills the cat, I guess…but I’m a ninja cat.) The common idea is that host clubs are dangerous…all the articles, documentaries, interviews…they always tell you the extremes: Spending $10,000 on a bottle of champagne, customers asking for sex from their hosts, women going into debt and working in the sex industry to pay it off, etc.

But I want to know, is it ALWAYS like this? Isn’t it dangerous only if a customer ends up falling in love with her host, or if she becomes jealous that another customer is getting more attention, or if she’s basically not keeping count of how much she’s spending? The most important thing is that a woman must remember that her ‘relationship’ with a host is a game. Anything that her host says to her can’t be treated as truth so easily.

Every time I write about this experience, I feel the need to defend myself from people’s judgment. But my reason for entering the world of host clubs is much different. I will not explain how it is different, but I will say that it has nothing to do with deep emotional fulfillment, in terms of romance and that kind of thing. It’s very hard to describe; I think most people just won’t understand or won’t believe me.

I just want to figure out if host clubs are always as they are described in the media. You know how the media likes to manipulate, exaggerate, and dramatize everything.


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