As a hostess (and the only foreigner) at one very highly respected club in Kitashinchi, Osaka’s hostess club hot spot in Umeda, I am fortunate to meet a lot of interesting people in my work. Some are nice and some are not but I have come to look at what I do as a chance to have a peek into a highly important part of Japanese culture: what the Japanese refer to as “entertainment.”
Now, a lot of people get the wrong idea about hostesses and I’m here to set those people straight. First of all, hostesses do not sleep with their customers. That is what the soaplands are for, where a man can expect to pay anywhere from 30,000 yen to 50,000 yen for sex.
The hostess club is there so businessmen can entertain their employees or clients in a situation where they don’t have to do all the talking, and where they are surrounded by pretty women who will light their cigarettes and refill their drinks. In an age where women everywhere are getting stronger and running the show, the hostess club is a place where a man can still feel like a man (without sex, of course). And while I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it’s true and this fact of Japanese culture is not coming to an end anytime soon.
Many people wonder why women do this job. Well, the truth is that some really like it, especially those who like to talk and drink alcohol. In order to be good at the job however, you have to be good at bullshitting. Even the most intelligent and serious of hostesses have to bullshit, in order to make the customer feel good. I’m not sure in psychological terms, if this is doing the customer harm or good, but it's an important skill needed for the job.
Probably the most common reason that a woman chooses to hostess is, of course, the money. In Japanese clubs, these women can make from 3,000 to 5,000 yen per hour on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the club and how good that hostess is at her job. I’ve even heard of one hostess who had a lot of customers, who was making 10,000 yen per hour. In Japan, where a glass ceiling still exists for women in the workplace, an average working woman with a day job is an office worker or secretary who has to buy her boss chocolates on Valentine’s Day and make the staff tea. The average salary is about 1,000 yen per hour for these positions and so it is no wonder that for single or even married women, hostessing is more lucrative.
I mentioned before that hostesses do not sleep with their clients. Some hostesses may develop relationships with their clients outside of the club but this is something that might develop over a long period of time, the same as any other couple. Some of the customers may even choose to act as a “sponsor” and pay the girl’s apartment rent or give them a monthly allowance from 200,000 yen and up. These are pretty rare cases but they do happen.
All mama-sans running the clubs strongly encourage "dohan," in which you meet the customer (called a “guest” in club lingo) for dinner and accompany them to the club after dinner. Dohans usually cost the customer 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen but this includes two hours at the club. For loyal and repeat customers, the mama-san usually doesn’t watch the time strictly and the guest knows the rules of the club, so the mama-san doesn’t have to ask him to leave. However, for new customers who don’t ever seem to want to leave, the mama-san will drop the bill off and give him a look, indirectly asking him to leave.
So, I hope this has shed a little more light on the hostessing industry and if you do end up going to a hostess club, make sure you go to the ATM first.© Japan Today