Why Japanese men can’t stop spending money just to drink and talk with girls

By Kay

If you’ve spent some time in Japan, you probably know that kyabakura, a kind of hostess bar or nightclub, are an established part of Japanese nightlife. There are kyabakura for all price ranges, and men can enjoy drinks and a friendly chat with young hostesses, or kyaba-jo, who fix you drinks, treat you very nicely and generally make you feel very good about yourself— all for a price of course.

And although the line can be fine sometimes, this usually doesn’t involve any sex at all. But if that’s the case, why do men pay good money just to drink and talk with girls? And if there’s no sex or infidelity involved, and if it’s so common in Japanese society, why does it bother women so much when their boyfriend or spouse goes to a kyabakura?

Ryuen Hiramatsu, an expert in “cosmetics psychology” and also a university teacher of romantic psychology, gives his insight on the subject in a recent article on Niconico News.

Many women think it’s a waste of money to pay for overpriced drinks and snacks at a kyabakura, but according to Hiramatsu, men don’t really go to kyabakura to drink. To that, women might say, oh, then men do have a naughty “ulterior motive” when going to a kyabakura after all. But that’s not really it, either. Well, OK, there may be a tiny bit of that too, but the truth is, these men mostly just want to communicate and interact with girls.

Hiramatsu says that psychologically, men have a stronger urge compared to women to control and dominate others. This, unfortunately, doesn’t happen often in real life. If you go to work, you have your boss or clients to answer to. Try it at home, and you’ll create a domestic dispute quicker than it takes to boil a pot of water. So, what do Japanese men do to vent their frustrations? They go to kyabakura, where the girls treat you like a king and patiently listen to all your woes with a kind smile. Well, no wonder men like it so much.

And why should this be so upsetting to women, beyond just being jealous of a boyfriend or spouse spending time with other women? In theory, women should know that men are just enjoying drinks and conversation at kyabakura and the chances of things going beyond that are minuscule.

The real problem, Hiramatsu says, lies not in what the men may be doing at kyabakura, but in the fact that the boyfriend or spouse is going to kyabakura at all. Japanese women in general tend to care a great deal, whether consciously or subconsciously, about what others think of them. A woman with a boyfriend or husband who is overly fond of establishments like kyabakura may be perceived as a woman to be pitied who is left alone while her partner is out spending time with other girls. So, in a way, a partner frequenting kyabakura can reflect negatively on a woman’s sense of worth, which Hiramatsu claims is the real reason for women’s intolerance of men going to these clubs.

Of course, this explanation is not meant to justify men going to kyabakura. If it were the other way around, men probably wouldn’t feel too happy about their partners going to a “host club." (Hmm, actually, visiting a host club may not be such a bad idea if any of you ladies want your partner to see how they like it with the roles reversed.)

Yes, men will be men, and women will be women, but it’s natural for people to want to vent their frustrations somewhere and also to care about how they’re perceived by others, regardless of gender. The article ends by summarizing that what’s more important than the difference in opinion between the sexes is communicating with our partners (whether it’s about men going to what may or may not be seedy clubs, or any other topic), so that we can be more aware and considerate of their needs and feelings — which I guess is common sense really, but still good to keep in mind, since I’m sure we can all be happier that way.

Source: niconico news (Japanese) Image: MJ/TR

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Been there, done that. And It's not a cheap thrill, that's for sure. The only thing you CAN be assured of is a hangover.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

it may also come down to the fact that for married men, once the children come along their partners are often no longer interested in them except their role as the weekly cash cow....

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Like Paulinusa, I've paid through the nose at one of these places for a few drinks and a handful of peanuts, and the hostess spent most of her time wandering between the table and the bar. My Japanese coworkers lapped it up though, and one even looked like he'd hit the lottery when he got her number (It was fake). They kept buying her drinks even though she'd pour them herself and not include any alcohol- but they were persistent! The amount of mind-numbingly boring salaryman conversation these girls have to put up with is as incredible as their prices, so I'm sure hostesses and clients are quite happy to go along with the whole charade.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

It sure is a charade as caffeine buzz says. The men get a temporary satisfaction by artificially raised self esteem for which they pay an unreasonable price. The next day when thy wake up, nothing has changed in their lives. I am guessing this. The hostesses, faking conversations pretending to understand their client's real life situation and not actually drinking the alcohol but some diluted stuff. I would have a miserable life if I had a life like that. Would it not be better if these men would do something more real to boost their self-esteem. For example, excel in their jobs or do something outstanding in their private life using that extra money they are spending at the clubs.

As for those women who are feeling lonely when their husbands are in the company of other women, they should play the role of the hostesses with their husbands at home. Boost the man's self-esteem and make him enjoy your company. I am not joking, but I notice often how the sweet ladies in my office make the male co-workers feel useless.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I don't blame these women for skipping college when you could get paid 3-10 times higher than any college graduate by just talking.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Jkanda, the staff drinks by law are either non-alcoholic or watered-down as much as possible, as it would be a occupational health risk for staff to be boozing it up every night of the week. I completely agree, that the kinds of people frequenting these places are leading fairly vacuous lives and see it as a form of escape from their misery. As with gambling, these things can become a huge money pit and all for nothing as I see it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I used to have an elderly student who was a widow. Her husband had been a pretty successful doctor, and frequented these places quite often. She didn't have a problem, as they had the cash, and he just liked talking to young cute girls who pretended to be interested in him.

But she LOVED valentines day, because all of his hostess girlies would give him loads of chocolate, which he didn't like, so he'd turn around and give them to her.

Free markets: Where there's demand, they'll be products and services.

Don't hate, appreciate! Everybody wins!

3 ( +6 / -3 )


-2 ( +0 / -2 )

if their self-esteem is so low and their wives don`t want much to do with them. i love my j-husband, and he comes home every night.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I am still not sure what's so sketchy about these places. I'd say that they're pretty harmless by Japanese nightlife standards..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

More to the point, so what if men do that? There's a market for everything.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

An ex coworker (Japanese guy) used to like to go to these places, despite the fact he had a long term girlfriend, now wife. One day, I asked him why. He said ... "I love my girlfriend, but she is very busy. She works full time, cooks and cleans, and doesn't have time to listen to all my problems (and stroke my ego)"

I think this is it... its a confidence boost for men. Thats all. At the end of the day its the hostesses laughing all the way to the bank.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Do they speak English ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Do they speak English ?

universal body language only :)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I feel their pain.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Because, incredibly, they still have jobs with bonuses.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

bcoz its not cheating ... there, i said it

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Waste of time and money. These places are basically for guys with low self-esteem and no personality or real hope of getting a woman to speak to them unless they fork out some serious ¥ukichi.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I stick to local yakitorya where beer is 450 yen for medium size, sapporo and Kirin bottle beer, the stick is only 100 yen, and the karaoke next door is only 100 yen per song. Same beer prices also. All the locals talk to you and it is like a family place.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It's called entertainment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This thing is not unique to Japanese men. If this sevice was offered in other countries like it is here in Japan, you can bet your bottom dollar (with your hand on her bottom) that the men would go for it. It's unfortunate that most countries only have strip clubs or prostitution as an outlet for men to have a good time. The "hostess club" is, on one hand a silly waste of money, but on the other hand it is quite a fun time to be had with men and attractive men sitting close together nad laughing over drinks. If you can afford it, why not? Anyway it's a man thing, not a Japanese man thing.

-1 ( +3 / -5 )

Where else is there to go in Japan to meet the opposite sex, for men and women alike? There are no nightclubs in the western sense in most places, and the ones that are are mainly for gaijin, and you can't meet new people in izakaya like you do in the pub in England. And when a lot of western nightclubs offer a lower price for women, and the men are happy to buy drinks for girls they're chatting up, there's not that much difference at the end of the day anyway. It's just done in a typically structured Japanese way, just like Japanese holidays which are usually completely organised for you instead of you venturing out for yourself.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My god these features just get worse and worse! Sure men will be men, and women women, but how is that relative to men paying heaps of money in Japan for a few tee-hees and a lap pat? And how on earth is that women being women unless they are all gold-diggers or people who want to fool the other sex for fun?

Really, this article had a bit of potential at the beginning, but ended up just being a showcase of how little the writer knows. Men go to these places because they are desperate -- and in some places they spend a LOT of money. Women work there because it's easy money. There is indeed little sex involved because that loses the customer once the act is done, but if the customer is long term the owner of the house might (not shyly) 'suggest' the person partake and become a 'patron'.

More fluff, without the fluffing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In the usa they are called "Gentlemen's Clubs" and operate in a similar manner, but usually on a larger scale with the girs dancing in whatever level of undress is locally acceptable. Otherwise similar, overpriced drinks and little likelihood of any real sex. In the big cities, elite girls often make 100,000 yen per night (former stepdaughter was a dancer for a while) Only 1 in 1000 of the girls ever save anything, usually goes to drug habit.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Been there with colleagues ( many allow gaijin only when accompanied by a Japanese ). The men acted like teenagers with their first porn mag and the girls reminded me of Pomeranian dogs - save your money.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sigmund Freud once said, "A woman should soften but not weaken a man."

This is why cuteness goes a long way and that is what these men are looking for. (it is not the watered down drinks)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Think about why men even watch Kohaku? Is it really for the talent or the softening of mens hearts. Female figure skating is similar (the cuteness and youth appeals). Female Talentos specifically. (Korean specifically chosen to show universality =didn't want to focus on language)

Goo Hye Sun (Jandi - Boys Over Flowers) is a horrible singer for this and needs support to pull it off, but it doesn't even matter because her cuteness comes thru. The video also shows the difference of what is attractive to women and to men. Karaoke is almost a perfect example to see this effect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

charm: the ability to soften a heart (irrespective of true ability)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can't approve both men and ladies who waste their money like that. I think both kinds are cheap and hollow people. There are so many desperate peoples around the world. You can save a few of them with your money. You can enjoy the happiness by adopting one or a few children through supporting Save the Children, Care Japan and so many charity organisations. They are vain and fools as long as they visit such places as kyabakura and host clubs. All ladies and men working such profession are all immoral and cheaters over the fools.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I can't understand why any guy would piss his hard earned $$ away at these places!-whats the fun in going home with an Empty wallet,& a severe case of Blue-balls? ?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I know an bar worker on her third marriage-the money habit is addictive...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's best to go to these places only when someone else is paying.

If you can find such a 'sponsor' then they are a lot of fun.

The last time I went I had a really nice chat with a lovely young woman (well several young women, but seemed to hit it off with Aki-chan the best) and we exchanged email addresses... Then she emailed me the next day!

If your Japanese is quite good then I think the ladies will be very happy to speak to you... you're something different to the usual salaryman.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not just Japanese men. I worked with some foreign colleagues and they loved these places just as much as any Japanese guy. I remember one guy waiting all night to meet up with one girl who never showed up. I'll admit they can be fun if you hit it off with the right girl.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They have the advantage that ego massage is avoided, more at least, in Japanese homes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the usa they are called "Gentlemen's Clubs" and operate in a similar manner, but usually on a larger scale with the girs dancing in whatever level of undress is locally acceptable.

Strewth. In England, a gentleman's club is a highly respectable establishment for members only, like the Garrick, the Reform or the Carlton. It's where fine, upstanding members of the establishment go (ha ha). As for these kyabakura, well if the man's got money to burn then why not? Is everyone really so straight-laced here?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We gaijin "sensei" are lucky, the young ladies pay us to chat them up.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


All I can say about this is: Japanese men are Human being, and that behavior is the same..All around the World...


0 ( +1 / -1 )

If a guy has a wife or a girlfriend why go to a place like this? If a man needs his ego stroked by a girl half his age who is paid to stroke said ego then he's a pretty weak excuse for a bloke isn't he?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well when you go for work related things, you can just write it all off from your taxes

So there you go, benefits the people going, benefits the women working, Money changes hands, and the economy keeps on chugging along ^_^

but generally you want to stay away from the cheapo places

If you are going to go, make it one of the exclusive or very high class places (generally you need an invite though to get in) but its a fun experience

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can't understand why any guy would piss his hard earned $$ away at these places!-whats the fun in going home with an Empty wallet,& a severe case of Blue-balls? ?

I could take the same sentence and with a few changes ask why people would spend hard-earned money on luxury cars, game consoles, annual smartphone exchanges, and more. They do it because they can afford to and it gives them happiness for a while.

For those saying "that's what the girlfriend/wife is for", I have this response: If you go to your girfriend and spend a couple of hours complaining about your life, you never will GET a wife. Much better to get that stuff off your chest with a neutral third-party. A hostess could be viewed as a laywoman psychiatrist. Their forté is not talking so much as it is listening.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They are not men, they are suckers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ah come on... I'm a married mature American gent. I met a 39 year old J. lady on the beach. She was friendly, kind, gracious, built, and we made arrangements to get together when I could get down that way. We got together a few times. No sex...which was disappointing for me. I really liked her. Then all of a sudden she cut me off and said, "If you like me so much, come to the club I work at"! Ummm lady I'm living at poverty level...How can I pay a $100 cover charge and add in another $50.00 for a bottle of whiskey? Ummm what a great idiot I before anything serious happened. But, I do respect her, for she has to work too!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We live in 2013, Why do not women go to places places where it frequents young men. A married person who has no respect for their partner and have to pay for others to listen to them .... Well, I would not want a man like that, and I think there are few women in northern Europe that will.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Hiramatsu says that psychologically, men have a stronger urge compared to women to control and dominate others."

I really can't stand the neanderthal psychology crap that is still taken seriously in Japan. Ever heard of a helicopter mom? Women can have strong urges to control and dominate others as well. This kind of thinking is used to justify the actions of men who control and abuse their partners.

They should just admit that, yes, men go to these places because they like to talk to pretty girls and feel good about themselves.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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