Being greeted like a princess and being surrounded by many handsome men – a dream come true in Japan, as long as your purse can afford it.
Have you ever heard of the anime “Ouran High School Host Club”? Before the anime became popular, there were many host clubs in Japan already. So, what is a Host Club and what is the job of the staff inside those clubs?
Host Club are clubs for women, with drinks, music and entertainments. The unique point is that all the staff are good-looking men (ikemen!), and each customer gets to choose their own staff (who is called Host). However, not only the customer has to pay for her bill, she also has to pay for the Host’s food and drinks as well. This industry started in the 60s and since then, more and more clubs are being opened all over the country.
These bars are especially famous in big city areas such as Minami in Osaka or Kabukicho in Tokyo. There are over 100 clubs, although only about 10 of them are popular. To get more customers, Hosts usually go down the street at 5pm to hit on the ladies, in Japanese it is called “Nampa”.
These staffs are very easily pointed out by their stylish hair and suits, no matter how hot it is they can still manage to overcome it and look the same. After successfully seducing a potential customer, they will lead her to the club. The lady will now have to pay the entrance fee, which is about 2000 yen for 2 hours, and she can choose her own host from the Host List of the club. Visual kei, cool, handsome, shouta… there is a suitable host to every liking.
There are many entertaining services: having conversations, karaoke, or drinking challenges are the most popular activities to satisfy the ladies. The female customers (Okyakusama) will have to pay for their Hosts’ drinks, and obviously the fee is not cheap. The Hosts will try to flirt and invite the customers to drink Champagne. Normally this will not stop at just one bottle. The staff will keep cheering “Nonde Nonde Nonde” (Drink! Drink! Drink!), and this can result in an over 500 000 yen bill.
Look, the customer at the next table ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon! The hosts are all gathering around for a champagne call.
The average income of a Host is about 300 000 yen per month. Their ranking in the club also depends on how much money they can earn. For most of them, the main ambition is to become the highest ranking host in the club. However, it is not easy to reach the top. The working hours are normally from 6pm to 1am, 7 days a week. They have to answer phone calls or emails from their VIP customers anytime, comfort them and have conversations with them. Finding a true love becomes difficult, since some people will eventually get tired of faking love and complimenting on women. Furthermore, there are many physical diseases that may await the Hosts: fatigue, headache due to lack of sleep or kidney diseases due to the consumption of big amounts of alcohol…
The Host Clubs do not usually invite foreign tourists into their services (for many reasons: language difficulties, cultural clash, it is long term customers they are looking for…) so if you are a tourist, and you want to enter the club, the best method is to bring along some Japanese female friends with you. The host club is a fun experience since it’s a unique entertainment service which I believe is only available in Japan.