Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Host Clubs

Host Clubs, part of the "Water Trade" in Japan, are clubs that cater to those who seek companionship on lonely nights. These clubs represent a type of nightlife that is rare in Western culture. Their target demographic is lonely, single women. For this reason, the clubs are staffed exclusively by attractive young men. What these young men (hosts) offer is an attentive ear and drinking conversation. It wouldn't be far-fetched to refer to the trade as "emotional prostitution."

Host Clubs are found mostly in Tokyo and patrons can easily run up bills of over a thousand dollars in a single night. These clubs often serve very expensive alcohol, like champagne, that female customers are pressured into purchasing by their male companions. Hosts are paid to flirt, entertain, and converse, but never to engage in anything physical. Many young men flock to this type of job because the prospect of high commissions seems enticing to someone with no special job skills.

Female customers select their hosts from a menu that contains pictures and short biographies. While patrons are free to choose any host they like, they are expected to eventually settle upon a single host to "keep" as their personal favorite. Ultimately, the business strategy of these clubs is to satisfy their clients emotionally, without resorting to sex. Hosts will often contact their preferred clients outside of business hours and entice them to return, becoming frequent customers.

Hostess Clubs also exist, and in fact Host Clubs rose in response to their popularity. To learn more, I recommend watching the short documentary "The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief." It is a very interesting look at a part of Asian culture that is not well known amongst foreigners.

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