Japan Today

Letters from Japan: ‘Why hostess clubs?’


Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Send it to askhilary@savvytokyo.com.

Hi Hilary,

I am originally from America, I live in Japan and have a Japanese boyfriend. My boyfriend owns a company and now that it’s the end of the year, Bonenkai parties begin. My boyfriend goes to several of these and they usually go to izakaya but he mentioned to me the other day, they usually end in hostess bars and to be honest that concerned me. I know there’s the whole cultural differences thing but I’m not liking the idea of him being in a place like that. I tried to explain it to him but he didn’t understand because to him it’s a cultural norm for men to go to these places. His reasoning for going is because the people from these companies he has to work with want to go, and he can’t tell them no. The nights he goes I end up staying up waiting for him to come home around 2 or 3 am, wondering where he’s been and what’s happened. I really hate it but I can’t seem to explain the issue in a way he can understand. Any advice that you can give me would be so much appreciated! 

–Culture Shock

Dear Culture Shock,

I think an explanation of the cultural differences you mentioned is key.

Japanese business culture is a fascinating thing to study if you have the time and interest in researching the interplay between different kinds of industries, the long history of how certain establishments work, and so on. Taking your coworkers, clients, or business relations out for expensive drinks is a necessity, not a perk.

There’s even a word for it. Nomunication is the portmanteau of the Japanese for “to drink” (飲むnomu) and the English ‘communication’. It refers to the kind of open and more honest discussions that arise after alcohol has loosened people up slightly. What you can’t say directly while sober becomes more palatable and easier to take after a beer or three.

Drinking at izakaya or pubs is common enough, but as you mentioned your boyfriend often ends up at hostess clubs towards the end of the night. For clarity’s sake, I want to point out a few things about hostess clubs themselves.

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Why not?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Not much of a culture difference. We have strip clubs in the west. I used to go with my coworkers sand at the end, it was the ladies who were at the front seats while we the guys in the back wondering what is going on. Ahhh, the good days.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

If someone else is paying ...why not.

I wouldnt pay for it

1 ( +4 / -3 )

 about 90% of all tabs were reportedly paid for by companies.

And let me guess: 90% of these companies say they can't "afford" to give raises to their workers.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

It is a gathering of useless and talentless women who wants easy money to show off and take part in mount battle against peers of the same industry. Gathering of garbage XX outcast. 90% of failure women are in these business.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

They all are certainly not innocent, if you have the cash. Once you build a relationship with some of these women, you get their number. Side phone probably, but still. After that, they'll see you outside of the club. Of course you're still paying for everything. Throw around enough money, they'll definitely do whatever you want. Hell, I've even had the management and security guards tell me I can sleep with the hostesses if I pay enough.

The point is, these places aren't completely innocent. Plenty of bad sh*t happens, especially if you're in Roppongi or Kabukicho. I can understand why this person is upset, and it's her right to be upset. However, she has to work it out with her J husband.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Can’t she simply tell him that she’ll go to a host club the same evening, if he still continues to insist in going to his hostess club? lol

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This was the best answer that puts her dislike to bed.

Unfortunately, this is one of those subjects where you will either have to be tolerant of the cultural differences or find yourself a new boyfriend that doesn’t work in any sort of industry that would require him to entertain or be entertained by clients/other companies. Good luck.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

They want to go to those kind of clubs to brag about their fake prawless...

Their fake what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OK, so how about host clubs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This "Hillary" has a track record of gaslighting people who ask her questions. The reason for that being that - I assume - she had to go through this herself first. Japan is a deeply misogynistic society, not far from Arabic and Middle Eastern countries, but with more money and high tech. By "cultural differences" she means that treating women as inferior is standard practice, widely accepted. Just look at their "culture" surrounding fidelity and cheating. And also the number of lies they say to each other per day. Everyone who's lived in Japan at one point or another probably knows what I mean.

Advising a foreigner to keep accepting the abuse, is both a sadistic practice towards a vulnerable person asking for advice, (as I'm sure that Hillary knows the real answer deep inside) and also masochistic towards herself who gives bad advice, knowing that same advice hurt her in the past. The boyfriend is using an indestructible argument to emotionally blackmail the girl: "Oh it's the customers that want to go, not me, and my livelihood depends on it. Do you want me to lose my company?". Nobody knows what takes place behind closed doors, so as far as I'm concerned the guy enjoys the outing as well. This kind of infantile-level lies is what made me give up on relationships in Japan.

Westerners have different morals and are more advanced regarding gender equality (not talking about the atrocities taking place in America atm that are more man hate rather than fight for equality). Why do we have to pretend we fit into a society that is so disrespectful towards women? I used to buy into the whole "awesome Japan" kind of lifestyle, until I realized that while the country is gorgeous, making relationships there as a westerner is a one-way street: you either deny your western values and accept the abuse from your personal, business etc relationships, with all the psychosomatic consequences that will bring, or you go home. I have many friends who still live in Japan and they all have one thing in common: bad physical and mental health.

It's a tough truth I had to face living there and eventually I chose my morals and my values as a westerner.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This ‚l have to go there‘ is all nonsense. Myself falling fo one of these wonderful ladies, I know what I‘m talking about. She openly told me everything about the Fuzoku industry. Over 50% of all single mothers have to serve. In addition to the others. Japan knows how to keep their women low. Darkest middleage. My lady went back to the girls bar business after I told her ‚chotto‘ for further funding. Maybe my mistake because she till sends messages, without asking for anything, and this long after the support was cut. I miss her terribly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's there on Netflix. Midnight Asia - Eat Dance Dream (Episode 1)

Don't freak out at club scene where one old gizzard dancing on napkin.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Looking for lovelessness in all the wrong places,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Let's see, she comes to Japan, hooks up with a Japanese guy, then is upset he goes to a hostess club (Zzzz) with his co-workers (super common) where basically NOTHING is going to happen except an emptier wallet. If you hook up with a Japanese person, in Japan, it comes with the territory.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The nights he goes I end up staying up waiting for him to come home around 2 or 3 am, wondering where he’s been and what’s happened. I really hate it but I can’t seem to explain the issue in a way he can understand. Any advice that you can give me would be so much appreciated! 

Advice? Get over it. Lol.

All the businessmen will go to the bars, clubs, soaps or whatever, “because of work” as long as they have their jobs.

and whatever you think happens at those places, happens.

welcome to Japanese company life.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As a thirty-year plus permanent resident of Japan, "stories" like this really make my blood boil. And no, I am neither a fan nor a frequenter of "hostess clubs".

Here once again we have a petulant gaigin who expects the country to change to suit them.

It doesn't work that way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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