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Bestseller by hearing-impaired Ginza hostess - truths and lies


A two-hour TV drama that aired this month, based on the success story of a Ginza hostess who overcame her hearing disability through written communication with customers, earned high ratings.

However, some have publicly questioned the truth of her touching tale, including Kohei Hatsuda, manager of Ginza club “M” where the author of the bestseller, Satoe Saito, used to work. “The book describes her as the ‘Number One Ginza Hostess’ but a small club like ours can accommodate a maximum of 10 customers. There is no way that can make her the top hostess in all of Ginza. Her monthly sales were just about average compared to the other hostesses too.”

He criticizes the title of the book, “Hitsudan (written communication) Hostess.” According to the manager, “She rarely communicated with clients in writing. She can read lips to understand the customer and for the most part, she spoke back and wrote only when her words were inaudible and hard to understand. That was the extent of it.”

Of course, not everything about the 25-year old woman written in the book is fiction. Born in Aomori, Saito lost her hearing before she was 2 years old and attended a school with special courses for those with hearing disabilities. She learned to read lips and use her voice to speak. While in junior high school, she had conflicts with her mother, strict in her daughter’s education so that her disability would not become a lifelong handicap. Saito started smoking and drinking, quit high school and changed jobs several times, until she found herself in the night entertainment business. Her autobiography depicts her tireless effort as a hostess overcoming her disability, working at one nightclub after another using written communication to entertain clients.

When it was learned that she would be writing an autobiography, she had already left “M” and was working at another club, which refused to have photos taken for the book. The managers of “M” decided to help her out by letting the publisher do their photo shoots at their club. After the book came out in May 2009, many flocked to “M” to meet Saito, who decided to work there again.

But according to the mama-san, she had become arrogant, showing up at the club only once a week, and absolutely refusing to communicate through writing. “I asked her to communicate by writing because some came to the club out of admiration for her effort as depicted in the book, but she wouldn’t listen. She’d identify wealthy-looking customers and ask for gifts. Some of those men were clearly disappointed in her.”

The last blow was when she held a publication party, inviting the customers of her fellow hostesses. “In a place like Ginza where each hostess has her own clientele list, her action is a major taboo. The other hostesses were offended and then on Sept 30, she said she was quitting via email. After all the support we gave her, this is the outcome?” laments the manager of “M.”

The book’s publisher Kobunsha and the mama-san of Saito’s current workplace refute such critical comments made by her former employers, which happens to include the mama-san of an Aomori nightclub and first mentor who educated the disabled hostess in the know-how of the business.

But bottom line, that’s the nature of the night entertainment industry. Hostesses are for-sale goods from the club’s perspective, while the women who work there will find any means to achieve popularity and profitability. Vain or humble, true or untrue, it’s all about making money.

© Japan Today

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I enjoyed the drama.If the details are not true, and a lot of fictional stuff, let it be. Let the lady enjoy that. True, other hostesses would feel that it is unfair.. Well, the whole hostess business is a a bluff and quite unfair because you are lying to the men and stripping off their money by asking for gifts. One of my friends told me a funny incident from a filipino hostess club. The hostess ask for the same item (lets say a LV purse, or a ring)from three customers. After receiving the item from all three, they would sell 2 of the items and send the money back home. They would sport the 3rd item. The 3 clients are overjoyed when the hostess sports the item 'he gifted'. Very smart!

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sounds like an average typical and normal Japanese chick to me

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Deaf or not, she's a hostess! Shouldn't the headline read "brain-impaired Ginza hostess"?

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brave, salicious, and noteworthy. You go, girl!

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Japan puts far too much emphasis on the world of hostesses. Why not honor the struggles of other hearing impared people who struggle for acceptance in a society that hides those with physical imparements?

Too much of this societie's attention is given to hostesses giving young people the idea that such a Ginza life is glamourous and idealic. We rarely hear the stories of the loney old hostesses who one day find themselves no longer at the point of attention but too aged and isolated now to find companionship. Or those who suffer lasting depression, alcohol or drug abuse. Or the ones who end up in abusive or psychologically unhealthy relationships.

I would be far more congratulatory if this woman had set an example a daughter could follow. For example overcoming her limitations to do something constructive and helpful to the world around her.

Japan is suffering from a fatal disease the places the shallow and meaningless on a pedestal while ignoring that which really matters. The shallow nature of this culture is a disgrace to the heratige of a country that has such a deep history or meaningful culture. I guess "talento" and hostesses are all that we can look forward to now. It is a shame.

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womanforwomen filipino hostess club. The hostess ask for the same item (lets say a LV >purse, or a ring)from three customers. After receiving the item from all >three, they would sell 2 of the items and send the money back home. This is Called RECYCLING in Japanese terms, it is very common in Hostess Clubs thats the reason you have so many Shops open 24 hours near the Hostess Club Area. What I was surprised to know it that like this the Hostess recycles WanChan also, thats why you see some Pet shop open 24 hours in Shibuya or Ueno...

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tkoind2: while I agree, you find this nonsense of glamourizing certain lifestyles and choices is just as endemic to 'Western' culture. There is an entire hype / publicity machine wholly dedicated to manufactured media wh****, individuals who offer absolutely nothing of worth or redeeming value.

Unfortunately, people prefer reading about all the salacious little details of some celebrity's life, instead of focusing, as you point out, on truly noteworthy or inspirational lives. That's a sad reflection on human society in general -- not just the Japanese.

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shaolin7 >There is an entire hype / publicity machine wholly dedicated to manufactured media wh****, individuals who offer absolutely nothing of worth or redeeming value

That is a golden sentence describing the fallacious nature of the lives of many of today's people.

Thanks clodhopperOne for that extra info.

tkoind2 - as always enjoyable post.

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Well, I think it all depends how do you look on things. Just to watch dorama as pass time- why not, sounds any way very interesting. But if you think about hostess milieu- imho- nothing good really…

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Ehh..this is a drama? I'll have to watch it~

Although.. I wonder.. Do they even have hearing aids available in Japan? Because clearly she's not deaf despite what people think.. (Hearing Impaired and Deaf are different.) Surely if she got hearing aids, they would help her even more than "written communication." HA helps me plenty, and I'd think "written communication" would drive me mad if I had to communicate with people like that when I get a job. It's nice to know they have schools that help though~

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I have met Saito-san and she is a hell of a nice lady. Good on her for overcoming her disability and making some yen out of it.

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i enjoyed the last line of the piece. its important to remember that to have a rational perspective.

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To Shaolin7 & tkoind2: I fully agree with you. .

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