Photo: Pakutaso
entertainment

Idol singer from Keyakizaka46 says she’s now working as a Tokyo bar hostess

37 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Youth is highly prized in Japanese show business, doubly so in the music sector, and triply so for idol singers. That means many idols retire from performing, or “graduate,” to use the industry term, at an age when they’re far too young to retire from working entirely.

For example, Manaka Shida was one of the inaugural members of Keyakizaka46 (now renamed Sakurazaka46), one of the many sister groups to AKB48. Shida joined Keyakizaka46 in 2015, when she was 16 years old, and “graduated” from the group in 2018, exactly one week before her 20th birthday. Since then she’s worked in modeling, but on Monday she announced that she’s starting a new job as a bar hostess.

Screen-Shot-2022-09-28-at-8.59.48.png

Shida spread the word through her personal Twitter and Instagram accounts, with the above tweet saying:

“I am going to be starting work at [hostess bar] Next Ginza! It’s a different way from how it was before, but I finally have a chance to see all of you again and I’d be happy if you’d come to see me. I’d be very happy if women came to see me too."

Shida went onto more detail on her Instagram account, adding:

“Honestly, I think a lot of people are probably surprised about this. I really have wanted to try doing this kind of work for a long time but thought I wouldn’t be able to, so I never really actively tried to. But I asked for advice from people I know, and many of them were very supportive, and I decided ‘You only live once, and I want to do it, so let’s give it a try!’

I’m very excited but also very nervous, but this is a type of work I’ve really been longing to do, so I’ll do my best, even though I have zero experience. I’d like to sincerely thank my family, friends, and the owner and staff of Next Ginza for all of their advice before I made this announcement, and to everyone who’s been supportive on social media.”

For the uninitiated, Japanese hostess bars are neither strip clubs nor brothels, but bars where customers pay not only for their own food and drinks but also an additional fee for a hostess, generally dressed in comparatively revealing formalwear, to sit at their table and chat with them, as well as paying for any drinks or food the hostess partakes in. Hostesses are expected to be friendly, supportive, and attentive, and while all of that is provided on the basis of monetary compensation, one could argue that the fantasy being offered/purchased isn’t that far off from the one bought into by hardcore idol otaku.

Those similarities have prompted some online commenters to wonder if renting Shida’s companionship at Next Ginza might be a much more cost-effective way to spend time with her compared to having to buy CDs in bulk to get raffle tickets for a handshake event, the most common method for otaku to secure face-to-face time with their favorite idol.

As the establishment’s name implies, though, Next Ginza is located in Tokyo’s expensive Ginza neighborhood. Hostess clubs typically have obfuscating pricing systems, but a look at Next Ginza’s website lists a 60-minute session at 6,000 yen before 8:30 p.m. and 12,000 yen after. There’s also a VIP course of 15,000 yen-an-hour, plus “royal VIP charges” of either 25,000 or 50,000 yen per group, plus a 3,000-yen fee for designating which hostess you’d like, as opposed to having one assigned to you. Oh, and there’s also a 35-percent “service fee,” and, as required by law, Japan’s 10-percent sales tax, and it’s unclear if any food or beverages are included in all that, or if those are all additional purchases that must be made.

Sources: Twitter/@_manakashida via Otakomu, Instagram/manaka.shida.98, Yorozoo News

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese idol group’s CD-purchase rewards include overnight hot spring stay with favorite singer

-- Why going to a hostess bar in Japan can be a huge waste of money for otaku

-- Japanese bar hostess goes too far with the compliments, scares customer into going home

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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This is sick, the earning span is not set in stone, need more than looks and a short time as an “idol” to have a happy life. But we all make life choices, nobody is perfect. Good luck to her.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

These girls bring in a lot of money to their talent agencies, get paid peanuts and then are discarded like tissue and often forced into porn and prostitution.

Very sad.

0 ( +32 / -32 )

Terrible, and sad, but this is Japan so this is the price you might end up paying if you want to follow in these idols shoes. Disgusting industry.

-5 ( +25 / -30 )

I’ll do my best, even though I have zero experience.

Yes, the job certainly requires a lot of experience! Pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and talking.

0 ( +30 / -30 )

@David Brent… comments of the day!

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

I'm not sure what's worse, the fact she got dumped by a group,( which nobody can hear their singing voices anyway) or the fact the japan today actually seems to promote her and the business. Surely there has to be more interesting celebrity news. These groups really know how to make their money. Just make a group with 46 young girls, stick the name of the city on it, reduce it to 3 letters, then get rid of them, cause they don't really sing solo, then replace with another teenager. Rinse and repeat.

I have to wonder why they don't have the male versions of blah blah 26, or blah blah 48

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Japan needs to regulate the "talent" agencies.

Having a son in the entertainment industry ( oh how I tried discouraging it) I know first hand how much of a rip-off the system is.

Getting work depends on being with an agency.

These agencies take 70% of the fee paid to the performer and only the very popular "talents" get to negotiate a lower percentage.

No you cannot get a lower percentage by changing agency because they will not take you it is an unwritten rule/agreement between the major agencies.

Example of how the performers are abused, a set of 4 days live shows or play will require 1 to 2 weeks of rehearsal but the performers will only be paid for the days of the shows nothing for rehearsal.

And after all that the agency will take 70% of that.

My son have a weekly TV show, a daily YouTube video related to the TV show and this month 3 live shows.

Despite all that he lives at home because he cannot afford a place of his own as he receives only 30% of the money.

Now that he is getting popular the system means he can now try to negotiate a higher percentage for himself.

70% to the agency would be illegal in most developed countries.

6 ( +18 / -12 )

She is just trying to make ends meet like the rest of us.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Amusing that Westerners bill and coo over Geishas and then condemn hostesses (and male hosts).

It's the same industry - hospitality, with a Japanese twist.

How many people become regulars in a pub because they enjoy the atmosphere and chat? Well, you are paying more for your drinks than you would from Bargain Booze, for your experience. Ditto Host/ess bars.

The JP entertainment industry isn't a walk in the park, and employment in Japan has always been tougher for young women. I guess this is a logical extension from the handshake events for her.

It's really not an easy job. Do you think you could be convincingly attentive enough to a complete stranger whilst they get sozzled complaining about their wife, kids, job and boss for a couple of hours? Or deal well with the overenthusiastic clients? Evening after evening.

Good luck to her and to anyone taking the plunge on a tough job in difficult times, or doing something that they are nervous about, but really want to try.

21 ( +27 / -6 )

I really have wanted to try doing this kind of work for a long time but thought I wouldn’t be able to, so I never really actively tried to

Life-long dream attained!

Aim for the stars, kid. Oh...you already were a star.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Thanks for that Antiquesaving. Good luck to your son.

Yes, the entertainment industry in Japan is a closed shop with practices akin to organized crime, to which some actual links still remain. It is ironic in Japan that the word "talento" gets used for performers, because talent is not allowed to shine. All performers are essentially disposable and must operate within the rigid rules of the system.

The lady in the article sounds like she is washed up as a performer at 25ish. Maybe the "former idol" tagline will work well for her as a hostess, another highly looks-dependent job, but only so long as folks know or remember the group she was in. Or she has the smarts/personality to do the hostess thing well of course. In terms of career earnings, I wonder if she'll work out ahead of a woman who went to college, got a professional qualification, say accounting or real estate, and worked using that. I wouldn't be surprised if a person doing that came out ahead in the long term.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Since these idols number in the hundreds (including those that have "graduated") it is not difficult to find that some have switched to work lines that are more adult-oriented. Specially the least popular ones that have no chance to continue in the show business.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

So she's leaving the entertainment industry to enter the hostessing industry - I wonder which has more sexual predators.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

She needs the money for her host. Hosts are pretty much the only reason Japanese girls would enter the night or sex industry. There’s a reason why hosts typically makes 100M+ annually when combining shop income and “after” services even as a mid tier.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

 Just make a group with 46 young girls, stick the name of the city on it, reduce it to 3 letters

Just yesterday I was listening to some random k-pop as bgm while driving when I turned on the radio and for some 10 long seconds I wasnt sure if I was listening to music intended for adults or if it was some sort of kindergarten event live on radio, the instant warp from pleasant, confident, natural voices to a group of dozens of women portraiting themselves as 10yo was ridiculous!

-4 ( +15 / -19 )

“Honestly, I think a lot of people are probably surprised about this. I really have wanted to try doing this kind of work for a long time but thought I wouldn’t be able to, so I never really actively tried to. But I asked for advice from people I know, and many of them were very supportive, and I decided ‘You only live once, and I want to do it, so let’s give it a try!’

Beyond Shida-san's pep talk which may (or not) be true, the main issue is that in her line of "business" everything boils down to beat the (biological) clock which is, of course...impossible.

As clear-cut example being her "graduating" her group.

For example, Manaka Shida was one of the inaugural members of Keyakizaka46 (now renamed Sakurazaka46), one of the many sister groups to AKB48. Shida joined Keyakizaka46 in 2015, when she was 16 years old, and “graduated” from the group in 2018, exactly one week before her 20th birthday. Since then she’s worked in modeling, but on Monday she announced that she’s starting a new job as a bar hostess.

The problem being that after less than a decade, she will need to "graduate" the club as well. Then what...?

Generally, there are only 4 options:

.marry one of the (regular) clients, difficult but not impossible, also the risk that the marriage won't last long is pretty big...

.manage to save enough money to open her own outfit and become a "mama", not impossible (if she is popular enough), but still pretty difficult.

.leave all the (fake) glitter and switch to a run-of-the-mill job like all of us or, even better, go back to school and learn something actually useful in life.

.downgrade herself to industries providing (ahem) "different" sets of (ahem) "human contact"-typed (ahem) "services".

With an optional 5th one: early retirement due to health issues (the girls are expected to drink with the clients and alcohol addiction and related ailments are not rare--watch that liver!)

The problem being that as an idol, people like Shida-san have what is expected to be a (very) time-limited expiry date. Within that date, the best they can hammer out of their short-lived "careers" is:

.modeling (age will become, yet again, an issue and unless they manage to get themselves into older categories of modelling, they're finished)

.become one of these legions of useless "geinins (芸人)" or "talentos (タレント)" on TV where they could (or not) become "regulars" or, even better have their own shows

.ideally, once on TV and managing to (somehow) become a (somewhat) household presence (at least on TV), they could aim for the biggie: TV dramas or, even better, movies.

Unfortunately for Shida-san, she did not get past the stage of modeling and is now basically "downgrading" herself to being a "companion" (I think is the term) in a club. Going back to TV is definitely not looking good, movies is completely out of reach.

Depending on which one of the 4 options is waiting for her after her life in a club, the future will be very different. The worse "option" being, of course, option 4 which is an industry more than happy to pick up fallen idols/actresses/talentos/geinins and which is more than often in cahoots with the porn industry which is equally happy to pick up "fallen angels".

Long story short: the whole system (idol management agencies, schools providing "training" to become idols for a hefty fee, the recording / TV / movies industries, the club-scene, the prostitution and porn industries) is rigged against their "protegees" and squeezing them for all they're worth before tossing them out with the trash and target (ahem), I mean "nurture" the next idol.

Still, so many seem to see the whole industry with starry eyes...

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

hospitality, with a Japanese twist.

Hmmm...I'm confused. What's the Japanese twist?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

the main issue is that in her line of "business" everything boils down to beat the (biological) clock which is, of course...impossible.

The problem being that after less than a decade, she will need to "graduate" the club as well. Then what...?

You are being overly negative about it. Yes, lots of women get stuck in these jobs because of the relatively easy money, but I have known many who moved on to have great lives. Professional athletes also have a biological clock ticking, though the work is not as demeaning as hostessing. The point is whether they are aware enough and have plans to move on. Many girls just go with the flow - and when they start to age they have nothing to move on to. On the other hand, someone who goes in with eyes open and uses these jobs as a stepping stone can do just fine.

Maybe this woman is just looking to put some money together for a future purpose. A still young ex-idol can make better than average money as a hostess.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Terrible, and sad, but this is Japan so this is the price you might end up paying if you want to follow in these idols shoes. Disgusting industry.

Not sure if you’ve traveled much, but this is not specific to Japan. It’s the same or more extreme in China and South Korea, but really it’s global in the entertainment industries.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@commanteer

You are being overly negative about it. 

Possibly, yes. As for myself, I consider myself more of a "realistic" and it is my profession to consider the risks impacting the company / business.

But ultimately, yes, everybody is free to take their decision and steer their lives as they wish. If things pan out, happy for them. If things go south, they can easily go South Pole south...

Just google for a list of former idols switching to AV (NSFW) and look at the resulting lists. You will see that it is neither rare a phenomenon nor a recent one. And as Antiquesaving stated, things are not all milk and honey while they are idols either.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Thats disgusting, where?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The JP entertainment industry isn't a walk in the park, and employment in Japan has always been tougher for young women. I guess this is a logical extension from the handshake events for her.

It's really not an easy job.

No one is claiming either job is easy. The thing people are attacking are the Establishment, here promoters/managers of idol goups who will dump performers like Shida at a certain age because they see group members as disposable. This does not have to happen. There are plenty of (non-idol) Japanese female pop stars in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.

As for Ginza clubs, yes the women work hard. They are still pretty seedy places, frequented by leading members of the LDP like Mori and Aso and folks from well-connected Japanese companies wining and dining officials in return for a deal on the Tokyo Olympics or whatever. We little people do not need to cheer such enterprises on. Would people be as supportive of Shida's new direction if she had said "I want to be an LDP politician!" like that ex-member of Speed? That would be another way to make a living.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

“ I’m very excited but also very nervous, but this is a type of work I’ve really been longing to do, so I’ll do my best, even though I have zero experience. “

Another cute Japanese girl pretending she’s innocent and inexperienced;

What else is new?

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Ok, if paid 15,000¥ to me in advance I’ll might find some minutes to talk with her over a glass of mineral water. lol

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Prepare yourself for 10s of thousands of one-sided conversations about golf and whiskey.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

She will thrive and become a mama-san in a few years and reach her Nirvana.

Meanwhile the rest of us in JT just keep plugging away.

Good on her!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I’ll do my best, even though I have zero experience.

Yes, the job certainly requires a lot of experience! Pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and talking.

And laughing, even though a joke is not funny, going to the nearest combini to get cigarettes and other things, and sucking up to people. No thanks. I'd rather go to a pub and chat with my mates during Happy Hour. More fun and far less expensive.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Not sure if you’ve traveled much, but this is not specific to Japan. It’s the same or more extreme in China and South Korea, but really it’s global in the entertainment industries.

I know, but we’re talking about Japan, but it’s the same for the other countries as well, even more so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nothing wrong with being a hostess. Do want you like and be good at it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The club scene or ‘snack’ is the place for many girls struggling to make ends meet.

From convenience store clerks to teachers-many are in it part or full time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Women who work these jobs are not on the high end of education and self worth. Don't fool yourselves, guys, this is a job only a misogynistic society can support. It isn't the same thing as prostitution, but hostesses do end up sleeping with clients, quite often, if not ubiquitously. It just take more time and money spent as the relationship is not straight up sexual, even if it ends up payment for sex.

The men treat the women as things, the women know the men are desperate for female attention, and act like male monkeys in heat with a goofy smile.

Many of the salary men have wives who they don't pay attention to, children who they rarely see. This type of business supports a poorer family system, which is one in Japan that dad's don't do much in the children raising department.

As a single dad who raised his children in Japan, I don't respect fathers doing their 'jobs' by going out with the bosses and paying for hostesses. As for the hostesses, they have a job. It's not one I'd hope my daughter ever considered a career and in the country lacking of dreams, the pragmatics of becoming a hostess is just a thing and if self respect is had by pouring drinks, I shrug with same I don't care as them. It's an apathetic world in Japan.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Women who work these jobs are not on the high end of education and self worth.

No blanket statements here. Blanket statements are usually always correct, right?

Meanwhile, plenty of women support themselves through university (aka high education) by working at these places. If you asked around to the wives of the people you work with, you'd almost definitely find a few. Why wouldn't they feel self-worth about educating themselves?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hostess bars are on of the things I really don't understand in Japan. It seems like such a waste of money. Paying a girl to flattter you--it's obvious she has not actual interest in you , other than your wallet.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Hostess bars are on of the things I really don't understand in Japan. 

Like you say, you don't understand. There is much more to it that the simple spin you place on it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I love going out to hostess bars!

Some of the friendliest, lovely, exuberant Japanese ladies can be found in them.

Just bring a full wallet with you…

0 ( +1 / -1 )

kurisupisuToday  08:44 am JST

I love going out to hostess bars!

Some of the friendliest, lovely, exuberant Japanese ladies can be found in them.

Just bring a full wallet with you…

Love it too.

Just going in those, and dominating.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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