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A Japanese hostess club in Hong Kong


Suzuki, Mayumi;


Issue Date




Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License

A Japanese Hostess Club in Hong Kong:


Mayumi Suzuki

B.A. Sophia

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. February 2007

Abstract of thesis entitled

A Japanese Hostess Club in Hong Kong

submitted by

Mayumi Suzuki, for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in February 2007

It is known that many Japanese men go to expensive hostess clubs where they can casually chat and drink with the girls without further sexual services provided.

Previous research on Japanese hostess clubs has been done mostly from the perspective of gender studies and arguments have been based on the male dominated corporate culture in Japan. Some scholars have conducted research on after-work activities of Japanese expatriates including settai (entertaining clients or colleagues) at hostess clubs, but only in cases of entertainment financed through corporate expense


However, since the bubble economy collapsed, companies have curtailed the entertainment allowances for their employees. In Hong Kong too, I learned that quite a number of Japanese men go to hostess clubs at their own expense. Now, spending time at hostess clubs is not part of their regular work duties; it is their own choice.

My study focuses on a hostess club in Hong Kong whose customers, hostesses and owner are all Japanese. It investigates how the meaning and the role of the Japanese style hostess club in Hong Kong change when they are transplanted into the Hong Kong context. While examining the reasons that Japanese men in Hong Kong to go to the hostess club and their interaction with the hostesses, my research indicates that Japanese men like the ambiguity that the club and the girls offer and enjoy the process leading up to, as much as any actual, sexual gratification. I also argue that the hostess club for Japanese men illustrates that sexuality is not universal but culturally determined, which makes the strategy of the club successful.


I declare that this thesis represents my own work, except where due acknowledgement is made, and that it has not been previously included in a thesis, dissertation or report submitted to this University or to any other institution for a degree, diploma or other qualification.

Signed Mayumi Suzuki



I am grateful to Dr. Dixon, Heung Wah Wong for his advice, encouragement and direction throughout the research and writing process. I should also like to thank Dr. Yoshiko Nakano who gave me constructive advice and comments.

This research and thesis could not have been realized without generous help and cooperation of various people. I should like to thank all the staff of the Department of Japanese Studies. I owe a great debt to the staff at the hostess club and the Japanese men who took part in this research. I would also like to express my thanks to The University of Hong Kong for facilitating and funding my research.

I am also grateful my friends whom I met in Hong Kong for their emotional support throughout my research. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their understanding and enormous support.

The names of informants and establishments that appear in this thesis have
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been changed to protect their privacy.

The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and any errors remain the sole responsibility of the author.

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Declaration Acknowledgements Table of Contents List of Appendices Chapter 1 i ii iv vi Introduction 1 Background Mizu shbai The Hostess Club in Hong Kong Ambiguity of Sexuality Previous Research on Hostess Club Previous Research on Leisure Activities of Japanese Expatriates The concept of Asobi Play for Japanese Marriage in Japan Fieldwork The Organization of the Thesis A Hostess Club in Hong Kong Introduction Variety of Hostess Clubs in Hong Kong Characteristics of Club J Comparison with other Japanese Clubs Mama-san of Club J Integrated Business Mama-sans Strategy The Rules and the System Conclusion One Day at Club J Introduction One Day at Club J Conclusion 37

Chapter 2

Chapter 3


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Chapter 4

The Hostesses Introduction General Profile of the Hostesses Case Studies Working Condition Conclusion The Customers Introduction Case Studies Conclusion Conclusion


Chapter 5


Chapter 6


Appendices Glossary Bibliography

160 164 171



Appendix One
Appendix Two Appendix Three

Profile of the Hostess Girls at Club J Details of the Male Interviewees Floor Plan of Club J

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Chapter 1



It is generally known that Japanese men often go drinking after work and that such occasions are usually considered settai (entertaining clients or colleagues) or a tsukiai (socializing with colleagues) paid for by the company. Scholars who have done research on the leisure activities of Japanese sarariiman (literally salaried man or male white-collar employee) have focused on these kinds of work-related activities based on the idea that a lifetime commitment between company and worker (Abegglen, 1960:11) causes Japanese companies to resemble family organizations. Company demands put burdens on their employees that extend into their private time (Nakane, 1985:20), thus the concept of kshi kond (mixing up ones private and public life) (Aida, 1984:67).

During my stay in Hong Kong, I have had occasions to talk to Japanese expatriates on their leisure time activities. Their stories intrigued me because each one described drinking and nightclubbing not in terms that suggested taking advantage of this kshi kond as Aida argues, but simply as something that each man enjoyed after

work. One of the expatriates I talked to said:

We usually go to the Karaoke clubs at our own expense. Most people who still go to these kinds of places really love it because many companies keep cutting the settaihi (entertainment cost) since the collapse of the bubble economy and they have to pay by themselves.

Before coming to Hong Kong and gaining knowledge of this situation, I assumed that most Japanese sarariiman went to hostess clubs or karaoke bars because their companies paid. I later became aware that several Japanese style hostess clubs operate in Hong Kong and are quite popular, but my first assumption remained. However, the fact that the sarariiman in Hong Kong choose to go to these places even at their own expense made me wonder - why do they still go to hostess clubs?

Actually, many of the sarariiman in Hong Kong go to China on business and go to karaoke bars there that offer more than Japanese style hostess clubs do. Why do they still go to such expensive hostess clubs in Hong Kong just for chatting and drinking even though they could enjoy more than that at a cheaper price if they just feel lonely or want to satisfy their sexual desire? Of course they have more money as an expatriate1 or an owner of a company in Hong Kong than the average sarariiman have

Expatriates who were transferred abroad by their company in Japan usually get foreign service allowances, family allowances, child education allowances, housing allowances beyond their basic salary (Seikei Kenkyjyo 2001). -2-

in Japan, but that does not explain everything, although this surely influences how often they go or how much money they spend there. In my study, I focused on a Japanese style hostess club that is patronized and owned by Japanese (I call it Club J, a pseudonym) with mostly Japanese hostesses. I wanted to explore the attractions this hostess club in Hong Kong holds that other types of clubs (karaoke clubs or night clubs with sexual services) do not. Also, I wanted to understand what characteristics of the club make it an attractive destination for Japanese men in Hong Kong.

Mizu Shbai

First, I intend to introduce the general background and history of mizu shbai (water business). When one says, She works in mizu shbai that usually means, She is a hostess at a hostess bar. Mizu shbai literally means water business or water trade. There are several etymological explanations, but the best-known are:

1. Because the flow of the customers is like water from a tap, sometimes dry and sometimes running full blast. 2. It came from the mizu chaya (literally water teahouse) in the Edo period. Mizu chaya was originally like a teahouse where beautiful young women served tea or

cold water but they used the backroom as a brothel (Horii, 1983).

The Kjien dictionary says, mizu shbai is the vulgar term for any precarious form of trade yielding an income entirely dependent on the patronage of its customers; for example, entertainment provided by geisha, bars, cabarets. 2 According to this interpretation, this term technically covers all kinds of shops, bars, and restaurants, therefore the above explanation (1.) seems more plausible, but the image and the understanding of Japanese people these days are closer to the second explanation (2.). In his book Edo Mizu Chaya Fzokuk, Sat cites an article on the mizu chaya written in the late Edo period and concludes that the mizu chaya was obviously used like a brothel (kashi zashiki) to evade the officials because prostitution at that time was strictly banned. However, Sato considers that the mizu chaya should not be regarded as an unlicensed brothel (shish). It was certainly a place to enjoy the thrill of romance but the girls working there kept their decency as amateurs (shirto onna) so that the mizu chaya could have an attraction that the brothels did not have (Sat 1993: 26-32).

There were places referred to as cafs in the Taish period in Japan, where intellectuals gathered and drank like the salons in Europe. However, in the late 1920s,

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the cafs nature and also the role of the caf waitresses (joky) were changed (Silverberg 1998: 209, Tipson 2000: 127-128). The waitresses started offering more erotic service and it became the cafs chief attraction. The young generation came to the caf to enjoy an atmosphere of love (renai). Waitresses were not employed as prostitutes and the men could have gone to a prostitute if sex was what the customers wanted (Tipson 2000: 128).

I argue that ambiguity is the keyword for the mizu shbai. Mizu shbai is a very fuzzy concept located somewhere between eating and drinking establishments (inshokuten) and sex joints (fzoku). Therefore, it can be said that they are in an ambiguous position and cannot fit into one category. Historically, it appears that hostess clubs inherit the nature of mizu chaya in the Edo period and cafs in the Taisho period that did not offer sexual services explicitly, therefore hostess clubs represent mizu shbai today while fzoku is a developed form of the prostitution business such as brothels.

The Hostess Club in Hong Kong

Club J in Hong Kong also has the ambiguity of mizu shbai that all the

hostess clubs in Japan originally had, but the meaning of the club might have changed when transplanted to Hong Kong. In Japan, the expensive hostess clubs are the places where men can enjoy perfect service by pretty and smart hostesses surrounded by luxurious dcor. The hostesses behave and are dressed elegantly and provide attentive service, for example wiping the customers glasses or lighting their cigarettes.

However, Club J is different and it does not represent the same experience for men as hostess clubs in Japan. The hostesses and the owner are more relaxed and the customers do not complain if the girls forget to light their cigarettes or get heavily drunk. The customers obviously do not expect the same service they could enjoy in Japan. My subject is a Japanese hostess club in the Hong Kong geographical/ cultural context and it is necessary to keep in mind differences do exist between hostess clubs in Japan and Hong Kong and the impact of this contextual difference. It is pertinent to my argument to reference these differences in order to assess what effects they have on the motivations of my informants. Linger proposes that the semiotic value of the term Brazilian restaurant is location specific. In other words, Brazilian restaurant does

not mean the same thing in Japan as a restaurant in Brazil (Linger, 2001:75-76). In the same way, Club J is located in Hong Kong which, by definition, means it is not like other Japanese hostess clubs. Furthermore, although the customers, staff and hostesses

are, for the most part, Japanese, they are interacting in a Hong Kong context. This means their behavior, no matter how consistent with how they would conduct themselves in Japan, is modified and adapted to their current circumstances. However, rather than limiting their possible range of activities, living in a different context may present choices unavailable in Japan. This also enhances the ambiguity of the space.

Category Shift

As described above, mizu shbai is located in a very ambiguous position in Japanese society and so too are the hostesses in this business. The hostesses make the customers feel that they might have a chance to get intimate with the girls. Most hostesses at Club J in Hong Kong do not identify themselves as a hostess because they did not come to Hong Kong to become a hostess and also do not have experience in the job field. However, as long as they get paid for the job, they are hostesses but cannot be or do not want to be professional ones. Therefore, their identity approximates amateur hostesses, somewhere in between hostesses and ordinary girls and is seen in these ambiguous terms by customers as well. Here again, this adds to the ambiguous nature of the social space.


The hostess girls working at Club J are non-professional and therefore, it can be said that they fall in an ambiguous position between real hostesses and ordinary girls who, the customers think, could possibly be their girlfriends. However, a lot of Japanese men in Hong Kong patronize Club J mainly because the girls are amateurs and the Mama-san takes advantage of the girls ambiguity and mens reaction to it. Obviously the customers enjoy this ambiguous position of the hostesses and the process of separating them from the status of a hostess and placing them into a new category of an ordinary girl.

While enjoying girls ambiguous status, it seems that the customers of the hostess club try to move the hostess girls status to the higher stage in their mind to justify themselves. Although a customer finds a girl in a hostess club attractive, he might think that having a girlfriend who works in the mizu shbai is not something to be proud of because of the image of mizu shbai in Japan or because of suspicions to the effect that the hostesses are just nice to customers as a part of their job. Therefore, once he likes a hostess girl, he tries to shift the conceptual category of the girl to an ordinary girl.


Ambiguity of Sexuality

It is often said that the main attraction of the Japanese hostess clubs and kyaba-kura3 is giji renai (love under false pretense). Giji renai is considered to be one of the strategies of the business at hostess clubs and kyabakura that do not offer sexual services (Kawabata 2003:34, Kimura 2004, Yamamoto 1999:27) and this is something that men enjoy at the clubs in the process of the conceptual change of the girls category. Allison explains, The hostesses act as if she were sexually and romantically interested in the man, and since there are always stories of hostesses becoming involved with customers, a man may assume he has a chance. Allison does not use the word giji renai but implies that the giji renai is commoditized and became an attraction of the hostess club (Allison 1994:19). Kawabata argues:

Hostesses rouse the customers sexual drive (seiteki yokky) but do not give them gratification (seiteki manzoku). In that sense, hostess clubs have a similar effect as pornography does. However, the crucial difference between them is the quality of the effect that this job has. Pornography has an effect that stirs sexual excitement and drive, but hostesses stir erotic and romantic drive (seiaiteki yokky) (Kawabata 2003:33).

There are two explanations of this word. One explanation is that this word is from cabaret club because it is kind of a mixture of cabarets and hostess clubs. Another explanation is that this is from campus club because the hostesses there are mostly university or college students. Kyabakura is similar to hostess clubs but cheaper and more casual. -9-

She explains that this erotic and romantic drive (seiaiteki yokky) includes sexual drive (seiteki yokky) but requires more human communication such as having dinner, traveling or enjoying sports together. Here, she means sexual intercourse or orgasm by gratification (seiteki manzoku). However, I would like to raise this question: Are the meanings and experience of sexual intercourse and orgasm - gratification and the goal of sexual acts the same for all human beings? Japanese men could go to sex joints or prostitutes to merely achieve an orgasm, but still go to hostess clubs for other kinds of pleasure and satisfaction.

There is a well-known study on human sexuality by the Kinsey Institute (Kinsey et al. 1953) in which Kinsey and his colleagues conducted face-to-face interviews with 12,000 people from all segments of the population in the United States. Their report shows the prevalence of difference in sexual orientations and also discusses subjects that have been considered taboo, such as homosexuality or bestiality. Aside from their sampling method, their work itself has been severely criticized. Palmore cites Meads criticism on Kinseys study which says that they omitted the most important aspect of the sexual problem which is its emotional meanings and also criticized Kinsey for handling the subject of sex as an impersonal, meaningless act (Palmore 1952:166). Their research was conducted on the assumption that the goal of
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any sexual act is orgasm, suggesting uniformity rather than variety in the form of gratification. There are other scholars who insist that sexual drive is purely biological and sexual gratification comes as a result of the series of the biological sexual activities. Masters and Johnson write about the biological dimension of sexuality as below:

The biological side of sexuality also affects our sexual desire, our sexual functioning, and (indirectly) our sexual satisfaction. And sexual turn-ons, no matter what their source, produce specific biological events; the pulse quickens, the sexual organs respond, and sensations of warmth or tingling of our bodies (Masters and Johnson 1992:5).

Also, as Theodore Reik is quoted by Kirkendall (1958) in his paper Toward a Clarification of the Concept of Male Sex Drive :

The crude sex-urge is entirely incapable of being sublimated. If it is strongly excited, it needs, in its urgency, an immediate release. It cannot be deflected from its one aim to different aims, or at most can be as little diverted as the need to urinate or as hunger and thirst. It insists on gratification in its original realm (1958: 367).

Of course, biological factors that stimulate the sexual desire of human beings cannot be denied. However, all sexual activities are not aimed at reaching physical satisfaction alone. The form of sexual gratification and the process people have or the way they experience it should have variation according to factors such as society,
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economy, environment, family history, personal idiosyncrasies etc.

Based on this hypothesis, I would like to examine what the hostesses mean to the Japanese customers sexually and what the hostess club which is supposed to be only for giji renai,, not for any sexual services, means to them. Giji renai cannot be categorized either as just a customer and a hostess relationship or as real romance.

Considering the above, the key to understanding the nature of Japanese hostess clubs in the Hong Kong context is the knowledge of why Japanese men in Hong Kong choose to patronize the hostess clubs at their own expense and also why they choose Japanese style hostess clubs over other types. Furthermore, why do they spend so much money on such hostess clubs even though there is no sexual service? Equally significant are the motivations of the hostesses. Why do they choose to work at Club J, knowing that they could earn much more money at hostess clubs in Japan? Also, it is important to know what makes Japanese customers initiate the personal relationship with the hostesses and the motivations for the hostesses as well to become involved in relationships with the customers.

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Previous Research on Hostess Clubs

Japanese hostess clubs might seem exotic to non-Japanese because they think hostesses are modern day geishas. In addition, it may be difficult for non-Japanese to understand the appeal of Japanese hostess clubs. This is because of the nature of the interactions between hostesses and the patrons. Men merely drink and chat with the hostesses with sex playing no role in the transaction, at least inside of the club. These kinds of interactions have been highlighted in popular media such as English websites, articles of English magazines and newspapers. Also, Japanese hostess clubs and hostess club scenes are featured in several international movies. However, only a few scholarly studies have been conducted on hostesses and hostess clubs in Japan.

Of the most notable is Allisons Night Work Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club (1994). She conducted her fieldwork working as a bar hostess in a high-class hostess club in the Roppongi area in Tokyo. Working as a hostess, she observed the behavior of sarariiman and their interactions with hostesses during corporate sponsored recreational activities. She gives a picture of the hostess club by describing the inside of the club, who the clients are and also the characteristic of the lady owner, the male waiters as well as the hostesses. In addition,
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she delineates what actually happens there what kind of service the hostess club provides or what kind of activities take place. By doing so, she demonstrates why Japanese sarariiman choose the hostess club among other places to unwind themselves and what they seek in their after-work activities. She emphasizes that the commodity of the hostess club is not sex, but it offers more vague services such as femininity of the hostesses. The hostesses make drinks, listen to the customers dirty jokes and flatter them to make them feel good about themselves. While she introduces this unique nature of the Japanese hostess club, she examines family relations, the mother-son relationship in Japan and the male bonding at Japanese companies and how these factors affect mens behavior at the hostess club and how masculinity is constructed there.

At that time of her research , companies spent large amounts of money on such outings as a way of augmenting and glamorizing jobs that, despite their prestige, are often boring and underpaid (1994:10). Going to a hostess club is part of work for Japanese sarariiman and corporations use the place as an incentive for their employees. She argues that cooperate masculinity is reinforced in hostess clubs where men receive feminine and attentive service. The companies pay for this service so that their workers feel more masculine, which then makes them better workers. Her work contributed to an unconventional insight into Japanese corporate culture from the perspective of
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gender studies and also Japanese male sexuality in a work-related context.

However, in Hong Kong, I realized that Allisons findings about why sex is only confined to conversation could not be applied although I agree with her view that sexual talk and flirtations at the club reflect and contribute significantly to constructions of male sexuality and that a mans ego is boosted by these activities. She explains that one of the reasons why sex is not consummated in the club is that most customers enter in groups to nurture male bonds (1994: 182-183). However, throughout my preliminary research, I came to know that many Japanese men go to hostess clubs with their own money after the bubble economy collapsed in early 1990s. Also for a lot of Japanese men in Hong Kong, going to a hostess club is not part of work anymore but it is their own choice. Therefore, I will investigate on a micro level why these men choose to spend their own money and time at hostess clubs.

Japanese sociologist Kawabata has also conducted her fieldwork in some hostess clubs in Tokyo for her doctoral dissertation entitled Patriarchy from the perspective of Women in the Sex Industry (2003). Kawabata treats hostess clubs as part of the sex industry and aims at finding out why sexual violence occurs there. She investigated how an intimate relationship is socially constructed as a power
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relationship at hostess clubs in Japan and how bitai (coquetry) is constructed by hostesses and works against sexual violence. She argues that hostesses construct hosutesu rashisa (hostessness) in the course of face-to-face interaction with their customers. A knowledge of the techniques of giji renai is a key factor in understanding this process. The new hostesses use these techniques to avoid actualizing romance with the customers. Bitai is one of these techniques and defined as pretending to respond to somebodys sexual desire, but not giving sexual gratification (2003: 33), for example, holding customers hands, leaning on their shoulder, giving them a light kiss etc. She concluded that this bitai as a self-defensive measure has been misunderstood and taken as one of the triggers of sexual violence. She describes well how the hostesses rationalize their feelings based on her own experience. I would like to examine whether the skill of bitai works in the same way in the hostess club in Hong Kong as it does in Japan considering the differences in the motivation of the hostesses who work there and the customers who visit there. The symbolic meaning of the hostess club in Hong Kong is different and therefore the strategy of the owner and the hostesses must be different too. Kawabatas research is focused on the hostesses and interaction in the club and only analyzed from the view point of the hostesses. I shall illustrate the meaning of the existence of hostess clubs in Hong Kong by observing them from the perspective of the people who play different roles there - the hostesses,
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the customers, the owner and also myself as a researcher.

Previous Research on the Leisure Activities of Japanese Expatriates

Ben-Aris research on Japanese expatriates in Singapore explored three popular after-work activities (dining, drinking and golfing) on a behavioral level. In doing so, he examined what these activities mean to the expatriates and how they use these opportunities. Ben-Ari admits that some Japanese expatriates in Singapore actually enjoy playing golf even if it is settai or tsukiai because it is a great distance to travel to golf courses and very expensive back in Japan. On the other hand, Ben-Ari emphasizes that in most cases, the Japanese business expatriates in Singapore utilize activities like golfing, dining and drinking as a means to build their organizational reputation and to enhance opportunities for promotion. Ben-Ari also writes about hostess clubs and hostesses in Singapore. He explains that Japanese expatriates in Singapore complain about the service of local hostesses because the expatriates need to entertain their guests in the hostess clubs and they have to make extra efforts to do that because the local hostesses do not speak fluent Japanese or do their jobs well. This fact shows that the expatriates in Singapore expect the same quality of service from the hostesses in Singapore to make business encounters smooth.
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My research is also conducted in the context of Japanese doing business in an Asian society, but not exclusively on the subject of sarariiman. In Hong Kong there are many Japanese who established their own companies and I will include them in my pool of informants as well because my research on the hostess club will be focused on the outings paid for by the customers themselves, not by their companies. Ben-Ari also concludes that Japanese expatriates in Singapore confirm their solidarity in Japanese society there even though they are posted overseas because of these Japanese only activities inside of the companies. I will examine how Japanese men in Hong Kong seek the Japaneseness as an individual in the after-work activities chosen and paid for by themselves.

Kusakas Thaniya no Shakaigaku (Sociology of Thaniya) (2000) is also one of the very few publications on the entertainment activities of Japanese expatriates. She conducted research on a red light district for Japanese men called Thaniya in Bangkok. Karaoke clubs and nightclubs in that area are mainly used by Japanese expatriates for settai and these clubs are more directly sex-related than the hostess clubs in Japan like the one Allison studied. Kusaka points out that Japanese sarariiman lack the feeling of kshi (public and private) because they drink and buy women at the companys expense. In Kusakas book, Japanese sarariiman are criticized for living out
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the expression tabi no haji wa kakisute (a man away from home need feel no shame or once over the borders, one may do anything) which explains their shameless behavior in Thaniya. In her book, she does not explore the meaning of the existence of the night clubs targeting Japanese customers and does not refer to the customers motivation. Since she could not do her fieldwork in the night club on her own, she had to rely on data collected by her male acquaintance. In keeping with participant observation techniques, I felt it was necessary to directly observe the location I wanted to study on my own and record what happens there so as to be able to analyze the interaction of people in situ.

Both Ben-Aris and Kusakas research is based on the assumption that the leisure activities of Japanese expatriates are sponsored by their companies. Therefore, they analyzed the behavior of expatriates as kaisha ningen (corporate person) who try to make the best use of money and opportunities provided by their companies. I wanted, on the contrary, to examine why Japanese men in Hong Kong go to hostess clubs after the bubble economy collapsed despite the fact that their companie have curtailed entertainment allowances. By so doing I hoped to gain a sense of what they choose to do in their spare time, not merely as a kaisha ningen, and their motivations behind such choices.
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In Ichinosawas book Go-go bar no Keiei Jinruigaku (An Anthropology of Management at Go-go bars) (2003), the sex tourism in Thailand and the interaction and relationship between the sex workers and their clients are well described from the perspective of economic anthropology. It shows that the motivations that bring men to the go-go bars are various while the motivations on the girls side are more or less economic. He writes that the motivations of the clients are often ambiguous and complex. According to him, the relationships are contingent on the situation, each others reaction or attributes. Ichinosawa claims that the fixed patterns of the relationships between the bar girls and their clients do not exist because their desires and interests are not always the same and their means of developing the relationships depend greatly on the situations and coincidences involved. Not all the clients who visit the go-go bars in Thailand seek sexual gratification, but some of them want to enjoy a romantic relationship with the girls and feel attached to them. He suggests four ideal types for the relationship between bar girls and their clients as below:

1. Commercial Transaction: economic interest is high but non-economic interest is low. 2. Casual relationship: both economic and non-economic interests are low. 3. Lovers: both economic and non-economic interests are high.
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4. Romantic relationship or friendship: economic interest is low but non-economic interest is high (2003: 213).

My hypothesis is that this kind of categorization is not applied to Japanese style hostess clubs because sex is not part of the commodity they offer unlike these go-go bars. Taking this into consideration, I would like to examine the motivation of men in Hong Kong to go to the hostess club and the relationships and interactions of the customers and the hostess girls. Ichinosawa also said that the men who visit the go-go bars feel superior to the girls just because they are Japanese or Westerners, which makes visiting the go-go bars attractive for them. They can keep their pride because they do not need to take initiative through the process of the relationship with the girls 2003: 203). Also, they can confirm their sexual attraction and masculinity by establishing a relationship with the bar girls without money involved (2003: 202). Because the place, the customers (the customers of the go-go bars are both Westerners and Japanese) and the motivation of the girls are all different in Hong Kong, I would like to find out what the difference of the context makes to the uniqueness of the hostess club in Hong Kong.

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The Concept of Asobi Play for Japanese

In our daily life, play is considered to be the opposite of creative activities or the idea of seriousness. Play is a secondary activity that soothes fatigued people so that they can get through the main activities in their life. In that sense, play cannot be easily dismissed. Also, play reflects culture because it usually seeks something extraordinary, and because what is ordinary and what is not differ from culture to culture. Raveri says in the introduction of the book Japan at Play: The ludic and the logic of power, Often what is created in play is as real as what is produced under the pressure of lifes needs. Besides, play can be quite serious, when it deeply affects the personality of the players or it involves their economic or social interests (2002: 1). If we look at how people play or what they seek in play, we can also see the reality of their lives.

Japanese people are often described as workaholic. In his book Ganbari no Kz (1987), Amanuma points out that the concept of ganbari is unique to Japanese language and cannot be translated into any other languages. This concept is close to work hard, persistency or tenacity in English, but this Japanese word has more various meanings and ambiguous nuance and all the activities that are put into
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practice under this special concept are deeply related to national characteristic of Japanese people (1987: 53). He also claims that there is no opposite word to ganbaru in Japanese. It can only be expressed by foreign words such as rirakkusu (relaxation) or rej (leisure). Japanese words such as hima (have much free time) or yoka (time to spare) do not carry a positive connotation because doing nothing or having a lot of free time do not have any positive value in Japan. I agree with Amanumas viewpoint, however, there must be some way for Japanese people to unwind themselves without feeling so guilty. Going to hostess clubs is obviously part of play that reflects the lifestyle of some Japanese men. How do they use this play and for what? Why do they spend their free time there? I would like to know how the Japanese mentality that Amanuma mentions influences their after-work activities in hostess clubs.

Linhart wrote an article on Japanese mens leisure activities in the amusement quarters or sakariba in Japan. There are various kinds of drinking places in sakariba and Linhart mentioned that many Japanese company-men come there to find a space of evaporation where they do not have to bear the strain of work at the company or of discord within the family. Also, many company employees are temporarily transferred to some towns far away from their families and spend their time after work in snack bars as their second home. There are many men who were transferred to Hong Kong
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and left their families in Japan. Are they also looking for their second home where they can feel free and do not have to feel lonely?

Linhart also argues that modern Japanese company men have few opportunities to act as free individuals because they always have to be under the pressure of lifetime commitment both at work in the company and in the family. Sakariba is the only place where they can feel free and can act fumajime (frivolously). Linhart concludes that the existence of many sakariba is the result of the stress at the workplace and within the Japanese family organization. Japanese men cannot have relief at home, whereas in European cultures the conjugal family relationship at home fulfils the function of offering relief for the stress which has accumulated over the day at the workplace.

Marriage in Japan

Most of the Japanese men I met in Hong Kong who patronize hostess clubs are married. Some of them go drinking almost every night and spend their time after work at various hostess clubs and go home very late. As Allison says, Westerners usually wonder how a Japanese wife could endure her husbands absence from home (1994:
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102). Does married life in Japan have anything to do with the fact that men like to go to hostess clubs and enjoy talking to the girls there without going home directly?

One of Allisons informants admits that he does not want to share with his wife what is happening in his life he led away from home. He does not enjoy Sundays or vacations with his family but it is something he has to endure. Although work is a source of anxiety and pressure for him, home is not its antithesis (1994: 104). Why do men feel that way? Is this one of the reasons why many Japanese men go to a hostess club that is either not work or home?

According to Iwao, the husband wife relationship is unique in Japan. Compared to American society in which married couple want to love and provide emotional support to each other and want to share each others feelings and activities, the attitude toward the relationship of marriage among Japanese is much more passive and exacts a lesser degree of involvement (1993: 77). In Japan, verbal communication is minimal and it is often said that a good relationship between a married couple is like air, which means the relationship accommodates each others needs but does not cause any stress.

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In most of the households in Japan, women monopolize management of the home (Iwao, 1993: 81). 4 Wives are constantly busy with housework and raising children. As far as the housewives in Hong Kong are concerned, they could not take up employment in Hong Kong due to their earning power and visa status.5 Therefore, they usually stay home to take care of children and other housework, but often go out to study languages or have morning dim sum and chat with their friends who are also in the same situation. The wives keep themselves busy and also can release their stress by doing those activities. On the assumption that home cannot be a place for the husbands to relax without feeling any pressure and stress as Iwao mentions, men also need to find some places to unwind and somebody to share what is happening in their life. I would like to examine whether Japanese men often choose hostess clubs for this reason or if there are other factors to explain why those clubs exist and are so popular in Hong Kong.

Japanese husbands spend an average of 2.5 hours per week on domestic tasks, whereas American husbands report almost 8 hours per week on those tasks. The estimated share of housework contributed by husbands is about 7 percent in Japan, compared to 21 percent in the U.S. (Tsuya and Bumpass, 2004: 115). 5 The law has been changed and dependents of persons admitted for employment can work in Hong Kong again with effect from 15 May, 2006 (Hong Kong Immigration Department website). - 26 -


To conduct this research, I decided to adopt the participant observation approach and worked in a hostess club in Hong Kong for three months (May - July 2004), twice a week. The reason I chose this method is that I wanted to observe events first hand in the world I had chosen to study. To get to know what hostess clubs are like seems to be very easy even for a woman, because one can read about it in books or magazines, see similar places on television and even actually visit such a place with male colleagues or friends. However, it is almost impossible to know from outside what goes on inside - the working conditions and how payment is made. Therefore, I wanted to put myself in the shoes of the people I was going to study to experience events as they would.

One day I happened to find a help-wanted ad on the internet placed by a Japanese woman who owns a hostess club in Hong Kong. I sent her an e-mail briefly explaining my research and asked if I could work in her club for observation. Since her club is often understaffed, she seemed to be glad that I wanted to work there even though I told her my aim. At that time, I had not decided whether I would tell the customers and the other hostesses that I was a researcher but Yukari (the Mama-san, a
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top ranking hostess who owns the club) wanted to introduce me to the customers as daigakuinsei de hitozuma (she is a grad student and married. Hitozuma literally means somebodys wife which sounds more alluring) to make the customers curious. Since I knew that Yukari would rather let the customers know the fact that I was a researcher and married, I was open about who I was, depending on the type of customer.

The researchers who have done fieldwork in hostess clubs in Japan only observe the conversation and the interaction between hostesses and customers at the club. However I tried to talk to them outside of the club as much as possible. After I talked to some of my informants in the club and became close to them, I tried to meet them in person and conducted informal interviews several times in order to get to know how they actually think or feel because they became more relaxed than they were in the club. First, I was going to focus on the men who were transferred to Hong Kong as expatriates (chzaiin) but after starting my fieldwork, I came to know that there were many customers who were not employed by companies but had their own companies (jieigy). Also another category is genchi saiy, individuals who are hired directly by a local company. Therefore, I decided to widen the scope of the category of my informants from sarariiman to Japanese men in Hong Kong who patronize the
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hostess club.

After collecting some data about the Japanese men going to the hostess club in Hong Kong, I realized the necessity of knowing about the hostesses and other local hostess clubs to compare with my fieldwork site. Just looking at the hostess club from one side is not enough to know the symbolic meaning of the existence of the club. Kawabata, who has conducted her research on hostess clubs in Japan, confessed in her thesis:

I thought I could get to know the other hostesses better, but unfortunately, it was difficult to talk to them about their personal matters. We also got paid for the time when we were waiting for the customers, so we could not chat out of regard for the owner. Even when the owner was not around, we had a tacit understanding that we should not ask about each others private life, therefore we only chitchatted. It was very hard to know each other (Kawabata, 2003:20).

The purpose and motivation for the Japanese men going to the hostess club might be different in Hong Kong but also different for the hostesses working there too. Other researchers who have studied Japanese hostess clubs did not approach the supply side the hostesses and the Mama-san closely enough to know what they think about their jobs, customers and relationships with the customers etc. I believe that it is essential to dig into the supply side too because all of these factors combined make the
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symbolic meaning of the existence of the hostess club in Hong Kong different from those in Japan.

At first, for myself too, it was not easy to talk to other hostesses. Everyone knew that I was a researcher and our first introduction led many to think that I was a friend of Yukari; this created a situation in which the hostesses naturally kept some distance from me. Most of the hostesses in the club lived in a flat together so they were quite close. The dormitory was very close to Club J and usually three girls share one flat. A month or so after I started my fieldwork at Club J, some of the hostess girls started asking me out for drinks after work or coffee before work. It seemed that they needed somebody who was safe to talk to. Once they reveal personal details to somebody in the club, there is always a risk that other hostesses, the Mama-san and sometimes even the customers will hear about it later. Yoko, the hostess with whom I developed the closest relationship said:

I just cannot tell other girls of the club about my personal stuff. They live in a dormitory and most of them dont have anything to do in the daytime, so they gossip. It is very dangerous to reveal your secrets to other hostesses.

Being half-insider and half-outsider, I might have been easy to talk to. After completing
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my fieldwork, I have kept in touch with some of the hostesses, especially Yoko, who calls me as often as ten times a day. She calls me to complain about the customers, the Mama-san and other girls and also calls concerning incidental matters such as I am in a supermarket but cannot find the dressing you were talking about Another girl, Kanako, who has since quit Club J also calls me every time she has a problem with her boyfriend and asks me out for a drink. I was fortunate to collect valuable information from the hostesses this way too. I prepared a tape recorder for interviews with my informants, but all of them refused to be recorded. Therefore, I always had to remember what they said and write it up in the taxi, or sometimes in the rest room, anywhere I could manage to take notes.

Before I started my fieldwork, I was told by several people that this research might not be feasible because men do not want to talk about their private lives or that people often lie in settings such as hostess clubs. However, most of the patrons of the club were willing to talk about their experiences of having affairs or buying women etc. In the club, surrounded by hostesses, they usually just joked or bragged about it, but the men I met outside of the club individually earnestly talked about these topics in detail. Some of them voluntarily told me their stories. For them too, I am safe to talk to about their secrets because I did not have anything to do with their company or family. Later
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in my fieldwork, I realized that some (but not many) people did lie in the conversations at the club, just as people had warned me. I also realized that their lies could be detected in many cases in the course of conversation or interaction with other people. For example, the Mama-san often misrepresents the truth. She said that she met her boyfriend on the street in a very romantic way, but later, all the girls came to know that her boyfriend was one of the customers because the details of her boyfriend that she described were a perfect match for a man who recently became a member of Club J. When she embellishes the truth, there are two reasons. One is that she tries to make the story interesting to entertain the customers. The other is that she wants to hide her private life from the other girls and the customers, which she often fails at. Not only the Mama-san, but customers are misleading too. One of the hostess girls told me:

There was a customer who showed me the key to a Mercedes and said that he owned this expensive car and would drive me somewhere sometime. But the next day, I had dinner with another customer who was a friend of that guy. He said that Mercedes was his car and his friend used his car from time to time! He actually showed me the key and it was exactly the same one that the guy showed me the previous day! What a stupid lie!

There was also a customer who told the girls that he owned a company. However, a hostess got his business card and everybody else knew that it was not his own company. The reason why the customers lie is obvious. They want to make themselves look good
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and draw the attention of the hostesses.

While I was doing my fieldwork and interviews, I made every attempt possible to remain objective as a researcher. However, it is true that some facts were shocking and some statements bothered me. As a married woman, there were so many things that I just could not accept, but I had to be neutral and try to be nonjudgmental. Kawabata said that doing her fieldwork at a hostess club had a big impact on her private life (Kawabata, 2003:41). She developed a feeling of distrust in men from knowing that many customers come to the hostess club to seek a fling although they are married. I had a similar experience, but it was slightly different in my case because I am married too. I got different reactions when I told the customers that I was married and came to Hong Kong by myself to do my research. Some of the very conservative customers said, Really?? What a nice guy your husband is! I am sure that you havent told him that you are working here. Normal men dont allow their wives to work as hostesses! There are also some customers who tried to be understanding. They said, It is a great thing to study abroad after you get married! Wow, you dont depend on your husband financially at all? Isnt it amazing? But I could sense that they would never let their own wives go abroad, not to mention to work in a hostess club. One thing that I was bothered by was that some customers were interested in me because of the fact that I
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am married. Because they are married too and do not intend to get involved in a serious and troublesome relationship, they think it is convenient to have an easy relationship with a lonely housewife. There were some customers who boasted that they had a fling with a hitozuma before and thought it was a very easy thing to do. It was very difficult to make it clear in a way that did not offend them that I was not interested in that kind of relationship. As mentioned before, the Mama-san always introduced me to the customers as a married woman as if this was an additional value. In most of the cases it worked and the customers wanted to ask me questions about my marriage and then talked about theirs too.

When I started my fieldwork, I would rather have identified myself as a student but strangely, while I was working as a hostess, I felt that I was more a married woman because the people there wanted to emphasize that aspect of my identity. Interestingly, my position was ambiguous too. For the Mama-san, I was a researcher, a married woman, and later she started introducing me to people as a friend of hers. For the customers, I was in a very fuzzy position too. Some of them wanted to emphasize that I was a married woman, and others said that I was a graduate student who works very hard in a foreign country just doing the hostessing job for my research. As I mentioned before, the hostesses seemed to think that I was a half-insider and
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half-outsider. It appeared that the Mama-san, the customers and the hostess girls enjoyed and were interested in my ambiguous position, which allowed me to conduct my research in a more efficient way. Unlike Kawabata having a hope that not all men are like that and there must be somebody who sincerely loves me and understands me (Kawabata, 2003:37), I tried to accept the fact that all men are like that and not to expect my informants to be faithful in their marriage which made it easier for me to deal with them. However, not to feel disappointed in men completely, I tried to remind myself that I was doing my research in Hong Kong. In most cases, the customers who frequent the club in Hong Kong have more money and time than they did in Japan and feel open and free here. Therefore, the fact that they are in Hong Kong has some effect on their behavior. Here again, the difference between a hostess club in Japan and a Japanese hostess club in Hong Kong may play a role in their behavior. When I finished my fieldwork and interviews, I felt I had been taught many valuable lessons and found myself listening to their stories from a neutral position.

The Organization of this Thesis

In Chapter 2, I will begin with the overview of the hostess clubs in Hong Kong targeting Japanese men. Following the description of a variety of hostess clubs, I
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will describe the hostess club where I conducted my fieldwork and compare it with the other Japanese style hostess clubs in an attempt to emphasize the uniqueness of Club J which was my field site. I will also introduce the owners background and the strategy she employs to make her club successful. Chapter 3 will be a description of one typical day at the club. I attempt to describe what kind of place it is and what actually goes on there by showing what kind of conversation the customers want to have with the hostesses and how the amateur hostesses react to them. Chapter 4 will present the case studies of the hostesses. I will show who they are and why they work as hostesses in Hong Kong and analyze how the identity of the girls influences the meaning of the club. This is followed by Chapter 5 which is a collection of customer case studies. This chapter is based on both my observations in the club and also in-depth interviews with each informant. I will discuss why they want to go to the hostess club and what their attitude towards, and relationship with, the hostesses can tell us. The conclusion in Chapter 6 brings all of my observations and collected information together and demonstrates the symbolic meaning of the hostess club in Hong Kong and what can be understood by this unique contextual positioning.

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Chapter 2

A Hostess Club in Hong Kong


There are approximately 25,000 Japanese living in Hong Kong and 14,000 are men (Consulate General of Japan in Hong Kong website, as of October 2003). A number of hostess clubs targeting Japanese male customers are located in Causeway Bay, so many that they now occupy what was once an open water bay. Causeway Bay is probably the most popular district for shopping and nightlife on Hong Kong Island. This area could be compared to Shinjuku or Shibuya in Tokyo which also offer various drinking and eating places for a diverse group of people, including many shopping and entertainment spots favored by young people. In Causeway Bay, there are Japanese department stores like Sogo or Mitsukoshi as well as local shopping malls. The crossing near Sogo is always packed even on weekdays and one of the hub streets, Hennessy Road, is especially busy during rush hours. The shops and department stores are open quite late, untill about ten or eleven pm. Both Hong Kong and Japanese people enjoy shopping even after dinner.

There are not only dining places in Causeway Bay, this area also offers several
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types of bars and night clubs. In some of the high-rise buildings in Causeway Bay, usually fifteen to twenty stories high, there are various types of bars on each floor,

many of which are for Japanese customers. Causeway Bay does not have the sleazy atmosphere of the Wanchai district where one finds a lot of glittering neon signs for night clubs. In Causeway Bay, it is hard to tell what kind of shops and clubs the building contains of without seeing the signboard at the entrance.

The clubs for Japanese men are roughly divided into four categories depending on where the hostesses come from: Korean clubs (sometimes called K-kei), Philippine clubs (P-kei), Chinese clubs and Japanese clubs. Out of a lot of clubs in Causeway Bay, there are only five to six clubs owned and operated by Japanese. In this chapter, I shall describe Club J where I did my fieldwork and the characteristics that distinguish it from other hostess clubs in Hong Kong.

Variety of Hostess Clubs in Hong Kong

Korean clubs There are several kinds of hostess clubs for Japanese men in Hong Kong. One of my informants told me that the club they choose to go to depends on their preference.
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Chinese clubs are the least popular in Hong Kong among Japanese men as I discovered in conversation with Japanese patrons. While I was doing my fieldwork, I did not meet any Japanese men who frequent clubs where only Chinese hostesses are available. One of my informants who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 10 years told me:

I think only the Japanese expatriates who just came to Hong Kong and are learning Cantonese or Mandarin go to that kind of club to chat with the hostesses and to practice their Chinese language skills.

Chinese clubs for Japanese men in Hong Kong (the owner could be Chinese, Japanese or Korean, but the girls who work there are Chinese) are different from the Chinese style night clubs that are considered to be prostitution business. Their concept is that sex is not included in the transaction just like Japanese style hostess clubs. The girls just talk, drink and sometimes sing with the customers. Many of the Japanese men who work in Hong Kong have frequent occasions to go to China for business trips. The clubs that they can visit in China are much cheaper and offer extended services (off stage system), if the customers pay more in tips (Zheng 2003:116). This is probably one of the reasons why Chinese clubs in Hong Kong are less popular than other types of clubs.

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Also, the concept of the Korean clubs in Hong Kong and the Japanese clubs is similar in the sense that both of them do not offer any explicit sexual services. One of the obvious differences is that Korean clubs are mostly Karaoke clubs whereas not all of the Japanese clubs have Karaoke. However, I still wonder why some men particularly like Korean clubs, so I asked some of my informants. They said, Korean girls are very compassionate (j ga fukai) and are good listeners so I am healed and comforted (iyasareru) or I like assertive (ki no tsuyoi) women, so I like Korean women. A couple of men I talked to even said that they only slept with Korean women besides their wives after they got married. One of my informants confessed,

Most of the Korean women working in Karaoke clubs have a compelling reason to work in mizu shbai because Korea is still a male-dominated country and men do not want to marry a woman who used to work in mizu shbai. So, as a man, I instinctively want to listen to their stories and comfort them.

In addition to these reasons, the Korean hostesses comperative fluency in the Japanese language offers another source of popularity to the Korean clubs. Their Japanese is quite fluent but still has some accent which might sound cute to Japanese men. Taking these reasons into consideration, Korean Karaoke clubs are perfect for Japanese men to enjoy giji renai. Another informant told me that he could enjoy giji renai more where he cannot communicate with the girls in Japanese perfectly. What he said can be
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applied to the Korean clubs. Most of the girls speak enough Japanese for communication, but their Japanese is not perfect. They sometimes do not understand 100% of what their customers say and cannot express themselves in the right words, which leaves some room for imagination for the customers. The other day, I met a Japanese expatriate in his late forties in a bar. When I told him that I could understand some Korean, he took out a small notebook from his bag and read out one Korean sentence and asked me what it meant. When I told him it meant, I want to spend more time with you, but it is time to go home, he looked happy and said, Oh, that is what I thought! He seemed to be enjoying this communication gap with the hostesses.

Also, the men who are in the middle of giji renai with Koren girls learn some Korean words and songs to please them or understand them more. There are some Japanese men who have hardly ever tried to please their wives or girlfriends suddenly becoming a romantic person when it comes to this kind of giji renai relationship. For their Japanese wives or girlfriends, they would feel awkward to send them flowers or gifts or to say sweet words, but they can do that for their giji renai partners. In my opinion, they can do that because they (sometimes subconsciously) feel that they need to do that to fill a cultural and language gap and realize that they can be a romantic person, which makes their giji renai more exciting. They can enjoy the
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process and the feeling of getting close to the girl as long as it stays giji renai. Yamamoto explains why men buy hostess girls flowers or expensive brand-name items even though they know that it is just giji renai. He said that there is always reciprocation of favors between human beings and people tend to have affection toward somebody who praises them (Yamamoto, 2000:54). Hostesses praise them saying, Oh, you are so kind and sweet and these words make them want to show their affection to the girls. This praise is something that they cannot get at home or at work.

Most of the men who approach Korean hostesses know that it is quite difficult to build a stable and long-term relationship with them, because those girls do not have a proper visa, they therefore cannot stay in Hong Kong for a long time. There is also a possibility that the girls purpose is just money. Some of the men realize these facts and that stops them from getting too serious about a hostess girl and allows their feelings to remain as giji renai.

Philippine clubs I did not have a chance during fieldwork to visit a Philippine club, so I interviewed some Japanese men who often go there. Some of my informants explained
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to me that the men who frequent Philippine clubs like a party mood just singing songs, making stupid jokes, laughing etc. Filipinas do not speak Japanese as well as Korean girls, so the customers can only enjoy the atmosphere. Also, it is usually no problem for the customers to touch the girls breasts and the girls even take off their clothes as a penalty for loosing a game. Also, one of the customers of Club J said that it was not his choice to go to a Philippine club. He uses these places for business-related
entertainment (settai) as many customers from Japan are curious to go there. He also


It is the best place to bring the customers who I do not want to talk with because I do not have to do anything to please them. It is all the girls job to entertain them!

I realized that many customers like him come to Club J to talk with the Japanese girls when they are alone or with their friends on their own expense. One of the hostesses of Club J said that there are many customers who come to Club J after a long night of partying and drinking with their bosses or customers in a restaurant and a Philippine club. It shows that just going to the Philippine clubs where they can have enough fun does not satisfy their needs fully whereas a place like Club J where they can talk and communicate in Japanese means something more to them.

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Characteristics of Club J

Comparison with Other Japanese Clubs

According to the Mama-san of Club J, where I did my fieldwork, there are five clubs in the Causeway Bay area owned and operated by different Japanese Mama-sans. I have been to three of them as a customer including Club J, and discovered that these clubs and Club J had very different atmosphere and dcor. Club J opened in 1999 and is considered quite new among other Japanese clubs. One of the other Japanese clubs is called Suzuran and is said to be the oldest of the Japanese style hostess clubs. The Mama-san of that club is the first person to have introduced Japanese style management to a night club in Hong Kong. The other clubs name is Moonlight. This club opened in 1997, therefore it has a slightly longer history than Club J.

Suzuran Suzuran is located in an old building along Hennessy Road, which is one of the main streets in Causeway Bay where Japanese department stores such as Sogo and Mitsukoshi are located. The Suzuran sign in Japanese can be seen on the windows of the club and you can tell it is quite an old club from its design. Inside is spacious and there is a stage, a drum kit for Karaoke and a small room with a window behind the stage where a hostess operates the Karaoke machine. On entering the club, you can see
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that the main entertainment of this club is Karaoke. Suzuran has seven hostesses including three chi-mamas6 at the time of this research. One of those chi-mamas is a Japanese woman who used to have her own hostess club but it went out of business and so she came to this club as a chi-mama. The other chi-mamas and hostesses are all Hong Kong Chinese. There are some Filipinas in this club but they do not serve the customers as hostesses; they are waitresses. One of the hostesses of Suzuran told me:

Some customers come to our club with their family. We do not offer a sexual atmosphere or services, we just enjoy singing and talking. The customers go to the other clubs when their wives are in Japan and cannot keep an eye on them but when their wives visit Hong Kong, they come to Suzuran to show their wives that they do not go to sleazy places! Our job is quite easy because the customers dont come for hostesses since they know we are all obasan (older women). They dont come to chat with us, but to enjoy singing because its cheaper than other Karaoke clubs in Hong Kong. The pay here sucks, but its okay because its easy.

The hourly charge at Suzuran is much cheaper than the other clubs, so it might be easy for the customers to bring their wives. Some hostesses smoke at the table while they are serving the customers. I have not seen hostesses smoke at work in other places. The Mama-san of Suzuran does not place so much importance on the degree of femininity that is often emphasized at hostess clubs. In Japan, women smoking is still something

Chi-mama means small mama. Usually Chi-mama takes care of the customers for the Mama-san when she is not there. Actually the Mama-san of Club J said that Chi mamas are the top hostesses there and she gave them the title so they are more enthusiastic about their job and do not quit. - 45 -

to be frowned upon. Nowadays more men accept that their female friends or co-workers smoke, but many of them still do not want their wives or girlfriends to smoke because it is not something that women should do.

Since the age of the hostesses at Suzuran is higher, (all of them are in their thirties or forties) the age of the customers is also higher than at Club J. I heard that business is not good recently but the Mama-san is very proud of Suzuran because of its long history, so she wants to keep it. When I went to observe a Karaoke club for Japanese in Shenzhen, I felt like I knew the reason why Suzuran is not so popular anymore. The club in Shenzhen was similar to Suzuran it was spacious and had a big stage for Karaoke. The difference is the club in Shenzhen has more young girls and the price is cheaper. Those clubs in China do not use an hourly charge system so you just pay around HK$ 4007 (US$ 51.44) and you can stay longer. As mentioned before, Suzuran is quite cheap for this kind of clubs in Hong Kong, but still expensive in comparison to the same kind of clubs in China. Suzurans hourly charge is HK$ 250 for the first hour and HK$ 150 after that. Additionally, they charge HK$ 120 for a fruit platter and snacks. Therefore, Japanese men, especially the younger generation, who have a chance to go to China on business do not bother to go to Suzuran if they want

HK$1 = US$ 0.13 (as of August2005) - 46 -

young girls to wait on them. I observed that the customers of Suzuran are long-time regular customers who already know this place well and can feel relaxed surrounded by familiar faces.

Moonlight The other club Moonlight is located on the other side of Hennessy Road, but the building is newer and nicer than the one in which Suzuran is located. Moonlight has a classier atmosphere too. They also have Karaoke, but in a separate room so that the other customers can spend time talking to the hostesses in a quiet mood with jazz music. They have a smaller space, but there are some partitions so that the customers can maintain some privacy. They decorate the club with some bamboo poles to make the place look more Japanese.

The hostesses of Moonlight are well trained and the rules are very strict, for example they have to sit at a certain angle. The number of hostesses changes often because the Mama-san constantly places help-wanted advertisements on job-search websites. The hostesses are not only Japanese. They also have Hong Kong Chinese and Filipina hostesses who speak Japanese. The Mama-san of Moonlight does not come to the club very often because her health condition is not good. Therefore, she sends a
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letter in Japanese to all the hostesses from time to time to remind them of how to treat customers. The letter which the Mama-san wrote to the girls before Chinese New Year of 2004 reads that the hostesses should ask the customers about their schedules during the New Year and also learn about their customers hobbies or preferences. Also, she continues citing a common Japanese expression, It is not enough to scratch them where they are itchy, but you have to try to find out where they are itchy (Kayui tokoro ni te ga todoku to iu dake dewa naku, kayui tokoro o sagashi dasanakereba ikemasen). Then she said, as long as they get paid, they are professional hostesses and should not forget that. They have to make the customers happy and make them want to come back and think it was the best choice to come to Moonlight. The hostesses are forced to write New Year cards or summer greeting cards (shoch mimai) to the customers. In this way, the Mama-san of Moonlight keeps an eye on the hostesses during her absence so the hostesses do not forget how to make customers come back to the club. The hostesses at Club J are told to do that too, but as far as I know, nobody does and the Mama-san does not care so much. Most of the girls at Moonlight do not drink alcohol. They just drink water while the Mama-san of Club J thinks it is rude to the customers if the hostesses do not drink at all. At Moonlight, they serve homemade Japanese pickles as accompaniment for drinks and prepare ochazuke (rice with hot tea poured on it). Both of them are simple but taste wonderful and they surely appeal to Japanese men who
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miss Japanese food.

According to one of the part-time hostesses at Moonlight, they still have many customers who use the place for entertaining clients (settai) while Club Js settai clientele represents only around 20% or less of the total customer base. She also said that some Japanese celebrities have come to Moonlight. That means Moonlight is a safe place to take VIP customers to because it has a classier atmosphere than Club J and the hostesses know how to treat customers. For this better service, customers of course have to pay more. Their hourly charge is HK$ 500.

Club J My fieldsite Club J is located on the 22nd floor of one of the buildings away from the main street and shopping areas of Causeway Bay. In that building are many clubs and bars targeting Japanese and you can see on the signboard that many of the bars names are written in Japanese. When arriving at the 22nd floor, one sees the clubs name Club J written in calligraphy and also a sign that says members only. But actually anybody can be a member and new customers are always welcome as long as the customer is Japanese. There is no written rule that foreigners are not allowed, but the manager refuses non-Japanese customers at the entrance. The Mama-san explains,
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Gaijin (foreigners) never understand our system. Both Chinese and Westerners usually think that we also offer the extra service after drinking. We actually got into trouble with foreigners before so we want to avoid that. That is why we refuse non-Japanese customers except when they are accompanied by Japanese customers.

This comment by the Mama-san shows that Japanese men clearly separate clubs that do, and those that do not, offer sexual services, unlike non-Japanese men. Similarly implicit, in clubs visited by non-Japanese men to enjoy more than the conversation, there is no clear sign suggesting sex is on offer. Hostess clubs for Japanese men do not bother to advertise that only chatting and drinking with the hostesses take place, and nothing more, because there is a tacit understanding between the Japanese customers and the clubs. Therefore, the Mama-san thinks that non-Japanese men expect other services than just chatting and drinking when they know of the price. They would not understand why just talking to girls for 2-3 hours costs more than HK$ 1,000. It does not mean that Japanese men do not pay for sex, but they clearly distinguish the mizu shbai places from sex joints (fzoku). The Mama-san said,

There are some men who come to Club J to enjoy conversation but feel frustrated after some sexual conversation and then go to a Philippine club to touch girls breasts. Sometimes it is the other way round they first go to a Philippine club but want to feel relaxed talking in Japanese, so they come to
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Club J after that!

Compared to Suzuran and Moonlight, Club J seems to be casual and closer to home in terms of the relaxing atmosphere. It is not as spacious, gorgeous and entertaining as Suzuran, and not as classy and quiet as Moonlight. Unlike the hostess club in Tokyo where Allison did her fieldwork in 1981, Club J is not a place that produces a sense of luxury or an exaggerated version of their own homes (Allison, 1994) but it appears that all the dcor and furniture are selected to make it more relaxing and homelike. Although nobody really watches it, they even have a small TV in a corner of the club showing music TV programs or simply todays news. Club J is the place where men can talk and drink with ordinary Japanese girls, which is supposed to be easy and a normal thing in Japan, but not here in Hong Kong because there are not as many Japanese female employees in their offices as in Tokyo offices and they do not have many chances to get to know Japanese women outside of the office. Also, at Club J, the hostesses wear their own clothes, while the other two clubs provide uniforms (feminine suits in bright colors) to their employees.

I asked one of my informants (38 years old, expatriate) about the difference between Club J and Moonlight because he goes to both of them. He said,
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The girls at Club J are more amateurish and it is okay if we go over the line a little bit (hame o hazusu). For example, I saw some customers or girls get drunk and sleep on the sofa several times. Also, there are chances to get to know the other customers because the club holds golf competitions or maybe Mama-sans personality make it possible. I think it is a good part of Club J.

He continues:

Moonlight has dim lights and the interior and music are chic, so I can have a drink in a very quiet atmosphere. The Mama-san cares about the snacks and the light meal too. They do not have many Japanese girls but they usually stay longer while Club J often has different girls. Maybe some customers like it though.

It seems that the men who frequent both of Moonlight and Club J choose which one to go to depending on their mood. When they want to talk in a quiet mood and drink with hostesses with good manners, they tend to choose Moonlight while the customers choose Club J when they want to enjoy chatting and drinking with the hostesses in a party mood.

Mama-san of Club J

Yukari, the Mama-san of Club J first came to Hong Kong in 1997 with her
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husband who was an expatriate employee of a Japanese company. She had been working in the mizu shbai since she was in college and owned 7 hostess clubs in the Shinchi area of Osaka. She told the hostesses and the customers of Club J that she had been a lover of some famous Japanese actors or slept with famous baseball players. However, one of her customers fell in love with her and frequented her club although he was still married then. He moved into her apartment and she decided to marry him because she thought he was going to be a good husband. When she got married, she quit and sold all the bars and clubs she owned at that time. She had become a housewife for more than 10 years since then but started to feel bored after she came to Hong Kong because she could not get along with other expatriates wives who, she says, only talked about their kids or gossiped about other people. First, she worked for a Japanese restaurant in a hotel but she got a chance to start her own business. A Filipino bar went out of business and her acquaintance offered that place to her. She decided to quit her job and brought with her a local manager and a waitress from that restaurant so that she could start a new business. It was 1999 when she finally opened Club J in Causeway Bay.

Yukari is 47 years old but she looks younger than that. She always wears a very tight dress which emphasizes her big breasts. She is a heavyset woman and
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sometimes makes fun of her own body saying, You like my breasts? You have to have my tummy too! She is like a big sister to the customers and the hostesses. She drinks a lot and often does not remember what happened, which Mama-sans of high class clubs in Japan would not do. However, she is usually very quick and good at making up stories to entertain customers such as:

When I was dating a rich man in Hong Kong, he brought me to a secret island. I was blindfolded, so I didnt know where he was trying to take me. He was a member of the club for rich people and paid around HK$ seven million to become a member. After getting a membership, you can take only one woman to that island and I was selected. When we arrived at the island, I was amazed. There were a bunch of beautiful men and women all over the island. The waiters and waitresses of the restaurant and the employees of the hotel were all gorgeous and you can have sex with anybody you like!

This story might sound stupid, but most of the Club Js customers seem to believe her story and enjoy it very much.

Her husband is sometimes in Japan and sometimes in Shanghai where she opened a new hostess club. He basically works for her and lives on her after he got sick and quit the company. Yukari seems to be a strong woman, but she cannot live alone. She always has a boyfriend in town. She does not say who he is, but everybody in the club, both of the regular customers and the hostesses know who it is because her
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attitude is obvious. Yukari told me when her latest ex-boyfriend was transferred to America, I dont believe in long-distance relationship. I always want to be with the person I love. Thats why I choose a guy who is in Hong Kong but without a family here. About several weeks after that, she met somebody else and told everybody that she was in love again. She seems to love her job as a Mama-san because she loves men, drinking and talking and hates to be alone.

Integrated Business Mama-sans Strategy

Club J is making a profit while most of its competitors business is quite slow. The Mama-sans strategy to appeal to Japanese men in Hong Kong is of significance to this success. This makes it important to fully understand how Yukari, the Mama-san of Club J established her own business in Hong Kong and made it work.

After Yukari opened Club J and it proved itself viable, she opened a shot bar and a kapp (Japanese style small restaurant with counters and some tables). Both of them are located in the same Causeway Bay area. The shot bar is in the building along Hennessy Road, but the kapp is in a quiet corner of Causeway Bay so it is not the kind of place where people just drop by. Although Yukari lowered the price of the food at the
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kapp aiming at not only Japanese customers but also local customers, it is still expensive and the kappo has an imposing atmosphere. Maybe that is why I see only regular customers every time I go there. However, the Mama-san makes use of this place to increase the profit of Club J. She tries to have dinner with her customers herself and also sets up dinner with her female friends and Club Js customers and then brings them all to Club J. Also, she uses this place for gkon (matchmaking parties). From time to time, she called me and said, I have set up a gkon and need some girls. Can you please come? Gkon usually means a small drinking party to find a girlfriend/boyfriend, but at Yukaris gkon, most of the male participants are already married whereas the women are single. Therefore, the women usually do not show much interest in those married men. However, it does not really matter because Yukaris purpose is to have the men spend money at the kapp and bring them (together with the girls) to Club J.

Most of the Japanese style hostess clubs have dhan (having dinner with a customer and bringing him in) system. If the hostesses go to the kapp for the dhan, they get extra pay of HK$ 25 (US$ 3.25) but it is too commercial and obvious if the girls ask the customers to take them to the kapp and HK$ 25 is not much money, so usually the hostesses go to other places for dhan to enjoy food with more variety.
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The shot bar has its own customers, like Japanese women who want to drink in a quiet place not worrying about speaking English or Cantonese (the bartender is a Japanese girl), but it is also used by customers who want to continue conversation with a hostess after Club J is closed at 2:00am. Although Yukari sometimes complains that both of the kapp and the shot bar do not have enough customers, the integrated business is effective as long as Club J is doing well. I asked her about the concept of the club and she said:

I wanted to offer a place or a situation that is almost impossible for Japanese men living in Hong Kong. They do not have a chance to get to know or talk to ordinary Japanese girls. Probably they have some Japanese female staff in their office but they cannot talk about many things in a relaxing atmosphere with them. This is why we do not need any professional hostesses.

Since Yukari knows about typical hostess clubs in Japan very well, I also asked her about the difference between the clubs in Japan and in Hong Kong. She said:

The hostess clubs in Japan are supposed to offer a luxurious atmosphere that they cannot experience in their daily life. The men who come to such kinds of clubs want to confirm that they are rich and successful people. So they expect professional and beautiful hostesses who can offer a perfect service.

She said that the hostesses in the high-class clubs always had to dress up and go to a
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hair salon before work. Some clubs in Japan have a very strict dress code and the hostesses are told to wear one-piece dresses or suits and shiny, expensive-looking accessories (Louis, 1992). Frank also mentioned that men seek an escape from responsibilities and commitments to a kind of interaction with women that is not available to them (2003: 66). In Japan, for most of the sarariiman, talking to beautiful and smart girls in a luxurious place over expensive liquor is out of the ordinary and something worth paying for.

There is, however, no strict dress code at Club J. Nobody complains as long as the hostesses wear a skirt except for dress-up days (1st, 11th, 21st and 31st of each month. Girls are supposed to dress-up more on these days) and some special nights such as a summer kimono (yukata) night or a Chinese dress night.

Yukaris strategy was based on the assumption of what Japanese men miss in Hong Kong. In her interview, she used the words nichijy and hi-nichijy when she explained the attraction of Club J. She said that, in Japan, Japanese men go to the luxurious hostess clubs in pursuit of extraordinariness (hi-nichijysei). She tries to appeal the customers by providing them with something they used to have in Japan but hard to find in Hong Kong. The customers enjoy authentic Japanese food at the kapp
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and talking in Club J. After that, if they want to drink more in a quiet place, they can go to the shot bar. She also uses these three places to make each other profitable by having a gkon at the kapp or bringing the customers of Club J to the shot bar. Also, she tries to make Club J as relaxing as possible and keep the girls amateurish, unlike the luxurious hostess clubs in Japan because she thinks this is also something that Japanese men in Hong Kong desire for in their expatriate lives.

As Shimane explains, extraordinary (hi-nichij) experience could be either social or personal. For example, a huge earthquake is a social extraordinariness, which affects the entire society and could lead to some changes of the social system and individuals lives and minds as a result. On the other hand, rituals such as a funeral or a wedding or an unexpected traffic accident are unusual events and have an impact on the individuals life directly (Shimane 2001: 22-23).

Shimane concedes that the extraordinary is also determined by cultural apparatus (2001: 33). Being in Hong Kong and talking to ordinary Japanese women is extraordinary for many Japanese men. They might have female Japanese staff in their offices, but not many, as Yukari said. If any, those girls cannot be categorized as ordinary girls with whom they can talk about many things. Also, most of the Japanese
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men who work in Hong Kong are in high positions in their companies and do not feel free to talk to the girls in their offices. In such a case, being in Hong Kong and also being in high social status work become the conditions, or cultural apparatus that make Club J an extraordinary space. It can be said that men seek something that is originally ordinary in Japan (talking to Japanese girls) in the extraordinary space (a hostess club). Yukaris strategy for her business is based on the assumption of what Japanese men miss what is extraordinary in Hong Kong. She commoditized this extraordinariness (hi-nichijsei).

The rules and the system

On the first day of my fieldwork, I went to Club J before 9:30 pm. The club opens at 8:30pm so other hostesses should be there at 8:00pm and get ready but I told the Mama-san that I would work there as a part-timer from 9:30 pm to 2:00 am twice a week. As soon as I got there, the manager (a Hong Kong guy in his early thirties) took me to one of the empty tables and started a lecture about the club. Since the Mama-san and the local manager knew that I was a researcher and was going to do my fieldwork there, I thought that they did not expect me to be a real hostess, obviously this was not the case. The manager explained the operating system and the charges. He said that
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the charge for the first hour was HK$ 400 for both members8 and non-members. However, the next one hour and after that, the charge per hour was HK$ 200 for members and HK$ 300 for non-members. Also all drinks are about HK$ 10 cheaper for the members.

Afterwards, he asked me when I could start working and explained the dos and donts. He also took me to the kitchen and showed me how to make a glass of mizuwari (whiskey and water). I had never made mizuwari, so I was nervous. He was quite strict and said, No, it is too strong! He also said, Use your brain! Dont just watch. At that time, I was so worried but later I came to know that few customers expected the perfect service in serving drinks or lighting their cigarettes etc. After the practice of making mizuwari, the manager gave me some blank business cards of the club and told me to write my hostess name (genjimei) Mayugenjimei is a name that hostesses use only for their work. Some hostesses use their real name but there was already a hostess who had the same name as mine, I just made my name shorterand my e-mail address on them so I can give the customers my card and get theirs in return. The manager told me to pay attention to the timing when asking for a name card and not to insist if the customers seem to be reluctant. Most of the things seemed to be

To become a member, one has to pay HK$ 1000 but the membership is permanent. - 61 -

natural, but this is how he educates the amateur hostesses. The manager has a certain power in the club. Mama-san entrusts him with all the arrangements of the club and the decisions over which hostess goes to which customer. There is no rule on the number of hostesses to serve a table or a counter. When there are only a few customers, many hostesses surround one customer. Some customers like it and say, I feel good. Its like a harem but others say, I feel uncomfortable. Its like I am being interviewed! Basically the girls have to change tables every 20-30 minutes under the direction of the manager except for the hostesses who had dhan with a customer. The manger does not have an easy job. He has to remember the preference of all the regular customers. He should consider who likes or dislikes which hostesses but has a hard time when they are short-staffed, which often happens.

All hostesses are given a piece of paper called toranomaki secrets of being a good hostess. The Mama-san made this up but it is just a hint to give all the amateur hostesses an idea of what a hostess should be like. The translation of the toranomaki is as below:

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Toranomaki (secrets of being a good hostess) Your job at this club is to be popular among men (moteru koto) being pretty and fashionable so you can make men want to talk with you, to have a dinner or a drink with you. You will have a lot of fans like an actress. You can make use of the experience of working here in your private life because you can observe men and learn how to be popular among men. Polish yourself and enjoy! <Service (sekkyaku)> - Always have a handkerchief and business cards with you. It is elegant if you wipe the customers glass from time to time and give it back. - When you have a seat, say excuse me (shitsurei shimasu) or welcome (irasshaimase). - After you took a seat, say my name is XX. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu (nice to meet you) and give your name card to the customer, always with both hands. Also, ask customers for their business cards. - If you got their name cards, call or send an e-mail to them within 2-3 days and say thank you for coming the other day. Please come again and ask please take me for a dinner. - When you change tables, say relax and have a nice time (goyukkuri) or please call me later again. - When you make a toast with the customers, put your glass a little bit lower than the customers glass. It is more feminine. - When customers leave, see them off at the elevator hall. When during busy times, only one hostess can go to say good-bye to the customer but other hostesses should keep serving other customers. - When the customer who you had dinner with (dhan) leaves, go see him off the premises even if you are at another table. - Do not lean on the sofa or rest your chin on your hand when you are with the customers. - When you move around in the club (e.g. go to the restroom etc.) make a slight bow to the customers you know. - Try to sit between customers. - Even when you are bored because there are fewer customers than hostesses, do not chat with other hostesses. - Give a rolled hot hand towel (oshibori) to the customer when he comes back from the restroom. Light customers cigarettes.
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- You should always be careful to keep your clothes, make-up and behavior fashionable and sophisticated (oshare). Always talk to the customers in a polite way. Even though you do not understand what they are talking about, look at their faces and at least nod. - Learn the pricing system of this club and recommend the customers to become members. - When customers come in while you are waiting, stand up and say welcome (irasshaimase). - We have wine, beer etc. too. Order them after you ask the customers.

<Rules> - We are open from 8:30pm to 2am but working hours are from 8:00pm to 2:30pm so as long as the customers of your table are there, you need to stay. - Do not smoke during working hours. Also do not eat snacks on the table without asking. - If you want to quit, inform the manager one month before in writing. - When you have dinner with a customer(s) (dhan shukkin) inform the manger of the name(s) and the number of the customer(s) and come to the club before 9pm. If you are late, call the manager before 8:30pm. (You get HK$ 50 extra per dhan customer.) The number of customers should be greater than the number of hostesses. - If you are sick and have to take a day off, call the manager before 7pm. If you want to take a leave, talk to the manger and get his permission one week before. - Do not forget to greet other hostesses too. Good morning (ohay gozaimasu), good job (otsukaresama deshita) etc. - Do not talk about your private life, like the staffs life in their dormitory etc. with the customers. - You should get ready (make-up, clothes, restroom etc.) and punch the time card before the club opens at 8pm. - Private phone conversation is not allowed during working hours. Try to keep the phone conversation with the customers as short as possible and ask them to come and talk in the club. - 1st, 11th, 21st and 31st of each month are the dress-up dates. Try to be oshare as much as you can! - We have kapp J and shot bar J too. Please drop in with customers when you have a chance. If you go to kapp J for dinner with customers, you get an extra HK$25

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Obviously, this toranomaki, especially the service part shows that femininity is an important factor to be a good hostess. Wiping customers glasses, lighting their cigarettes or making a toast in an elegant manner are basic rules in most of the Japanese style hostess clubs. However, it is more important for the hostesses to be non-professional, so these hostess-like services are not necessarily expected by the customers. What is more important there is attentiveness. The customers pay money to talk with the girls. They need somebody to talk to and be listened to, without talking back or looking bored. Therefore, this point has been repeated to remind the hostesses not to look bored and to make the customers believe that the hostesses are keen on listening to them (do not lean on the sofa or rest your chin on your hand when you are with the customers, even when you are bored because there are fewer customers than hostesses, do not chat with other hostesses and even though you do not understand what they are talking about, look at their faces and at least nod).

Also, the hostesses need to make the customer believe that they are special by sending e-mail to the customers and saying please call me later. Seeing the customers off at the elevator hall is effective too. Most of the customers seemed happy when some of their favorite hostesses came to see him off saying oyasuminasai, ki o tsukete (good night, take good care). It should not be saynara (good-bye) or just
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mata kite ne (please come again), but it should be oyasuminasai something that they want to hear at the end of the day.

In the rules part, it is said that the hostesses should not talk about their private life. However, there seems to be no restriction on the topics. The girls talk about what they do in the daytime, with whom they live in the dormitory and even about their ex-boyfriends. However, there is one taboo topic about their current boyfriends. Only Mama-san talks about her boyfriend or sex life; the other girls have to keep it a secret. Some customers come to the club with a hope of being close to a girl therefore, the hostesses are not supposed to have a boyfriend. One of the hostess girls tried to tell some customers about her boyfriend, but the manager stopped her and said to the customers, she has never had boyfriend in Hong Kong!!

This toranomaki was made just to give the hostesses an idea of what being a hostess is like. The rules part works pretty well but the service part only works depending on the situation. It is important to follow this toranomaki in regard to being feminine and attentive to make the customers feel good, but providing perfect service as a hostess is not considered to be necessary by the customers, therefore both the girls and the Mama-san do not pay so much attention to it.
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There is a variety of night clubs that are popular among Japanese men in Hong Kong. Each of these clubs has its own characteristics and its own role in the night life of Japanese men in Hong Kong, but Club J stands out in that it has only Japanese hostesses who drink and talk just like ordinary girls. Yukari tries to provide a place where men can come casually and talk with these non-professional girls. Yukaris strategy is based on the fact that Japanese men distinguish clearly between the places just for their sexual gratification and the places for just talking with the hostesses.

The other interesting point is that the hostess clubs and Yukaris business including the kapp and the shot-bar are the epitome of after-work life for most of the Japanese men living in Hong Kong and it shows what they miss and seek in their normal daily life. They want to have dinner in a place where traditional Japanese cuisine is offered and have a chat in Japanese with ordinary Japanese girls who warmly accept them after a long day of work with their Chinese staff who do not speak Japanese. At the end of a day filled with the pressure of being a boss, they want to have a drink in a quiet bar with Jazz music (if they are lucky) with a girl from the hostess club.
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This fact proves that Lindharts observation about sakariba in Japan applies to men in Hong Kong too. Some men might go to these hostess clubs to escape from their own home or workplace where they cannot really find a place to unwind. In Hong Kong, Japanese men have additional stresses such as language or different culture in their company. Club J is the place where men can talk in Japanese and enjoy service by Japanese girls which is very relaxing and comforting for them. At the same time, they can also be in the extraordinary (hi-nichijy) place where they can have a drink and chat with Japanese ordinary girls.

Some of my informants said that they go drinking almost every night or go to China on business and they are too tired to talk to their wives on weekends. When I asked one of my informants if he could ever get iyashi (mental healing and relaxation) at home, he immediately answered, No way! Listening to my wife and playing with my sons makes me even more tired!! I also heard many Japanese men say, I will have to fulfill my duty on the weekend (otsutome o suru), which means they have to spend time with their family. For Japanese men, home is a place to take a physical rest, but not a place where they can get mental relaxation. As Iwao (1993: 78) mentions, they are too distant from their wives with too little sharing. This life style of Japanese men working hard, going drinking almost everyday and not having enough
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energy left for their families when they are home, compounded by marriage relationships lacking in communication contains the important motivations that bring them to Club J where they can share the stories about what is happening in their lives with the hostess girls without any pressure.

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Chapter 3

One Day at Club J


While I was conducting my fieldwork, I encountered many customers with different backgrounds. In this chapter, I will describe a typical day at Club J and the interactions between the customers and myself as one of the hostesses. I hope to convey a sense of the nature of the human relationships in the club with this description. I worked twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays at Club J. The club was especially busy and had more customers on Fridays. Therefore, I will select a typical Friday to describe what happens at Club J so as to show how customers spend their time and interact with the hostesses there.

One day at Club J

When I was on the way to Club J, my mobile phone beeped. It was a short message from one of the hostesses who I often talk to. The message said, We already have a customer!! That sucks! It was before 9:00pm so she was not happy that she had to work so early. The club opens at 8:30pm, but there are often no customers before
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9:00pm and the hostesses can chat and smoke. During this time the hostesses will usaully concentrate around table No. 2 and wait for customers to arrive. Table No. 2 cannot be seen from the entrance, therefore they use this table as the waiting area. However, on that day, the girls did not have this down time.

When I arrived at Club J, I saw one customer at the counter and all the hostesses surrounding him. When entering Club J, one notices that the dcor and furniture are simple and the club has a subdued and relaxing atmosphere. In the club, there are five tables and nine counters. Tables No.1 and No. 2 are for small groups with two or three customers while tables No. 3 and No. 4 are for relatively big groups with more than five customers, therefore, these tables are usually used for customers who come here for settai and often have more of a party atmosphere. Table No.5 is a very small table which is mostly used for a single customer and one or two hostesses. Usually this table is used for regular customers who come alone and their favorite hostesses. This table is at the corner of the club and the space is very small so the customer can feel intimate with the hostess(es), for this reason some customers always select this table whenever it is available. All tables are separated by partitions which look like shji screens. On the right side of the entrance, there is a small kitchen and there is a woman inside who prepares beer, ice, glasses etc. The club has only two kinds
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of food, curry and rice and takoyaki (octopus dumpling), so the woman also cooks and the odors drift in from the kitchen. You cannot see bottles of liquor in the club because they are all behind the bar. On the walls of the hallway there are hanging framed calligraphies, and all the windows are covered with shji screens so that customers can enjoy a space that is isolated from the outside world. Japanese style flower arrangements are put in front of the shji. The sofas are dark brown and black and the carpet is gray. On the right side of the club, there is one long S-shaped table which is used as a counter. For the counters, there are nine pink chairs for customers and also nine chairs without backrests for hostesses on the other side so they usually sit face to face with customers unless the customers ask the girls to sit next to them. Above each table is a simple chandelier and yellow drapes around the light which make the space elegant.

When arriving at the club, I saw seven hostesses surrounding one customer. First, I went to the back room to put away my bag and punch my time card. On the left hand side, there was a rack that had all the hostesses time cards. Since I was treated as a part-timer, my time card was placed at the bottom. Even though I told the manager, Lee, that I did not need money for my work because it is my fieldwork, he told me to punch my time card in any case. To him, it is rather uncomfortable that I do not get paid
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since I do the same hostessing task as others do. To him, I am just one of the hostesses, unlike the Mama-san who was very happy to hear that I would work for free. The backroom is very small and is separated from the kitchen and the club by small curtains. There is one small desk that the manager uses. The backroom is so small that only two or three persons can be inside at the same time. This room is used when the manager has some desk work or when he needs to talk to a hostess in person or when chi-mamas call customers to ask them to visit. Also, there is a small space for the hostesses belongings inside of the backroom.

The manager, Lee, has a certain power and responsibility in the club. Not only does he decide to which hostesses go to which tables, he also scolds the hostesses for inappropriate behavior such as refusing certain customers or eating customers food etc. He is quite a moody person and sometimes yells at the hostesses when he is in a bad mood but becomes easygoing and relaxed when he is drunk after several glasses of whiskey that the customers offer him. One time, I came back from the restroom and he was very angry and said, The customers are waiting! Go there immediately! even though I was there only for a few minutes. However, it is him who takes care of the hostesses when they are in trouble. He takes the girls to the hospital if they get sick. When one of the hostesses was robbed in the streets and lost a lot of money, he gave her
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enough money to live on for a while. I sensed that the hostesses have mixed feelings for him because of his personality. Sometimes they say, Oh, he is really caring and nice but other times they say I really hate him!

After punching my time card, I went to join the customer at the counter and the other hostesses because he was the only customer at that time. When there are more customers, I wait for Lees direction for which table I should go to. The customer seemed very happy and was talking excitedly. His name was Miyamoto and he was in his mid-forties and very tall. He said that his wife and three children were in Japan. Because he was sitting at the counter and had seven hostesses in front of him already, I was quite far away from him. I said from a distance, Hajimemashite. Mayu desu (Nice to meet you, I am Mayu) and raised my glass to make a toast with him, but it was too far to reach him. He noticed that some girls were sitting too far to join the conversation and started asking all the hostesses where they were from and how long they had been in Hong Kong. One of the hostesses said that she grew up in Tokyo, but her parents are from North Korea so, she herself went to a North Korean school in Tokyo. Despite her background, she does not look any different from the other girls in the club. She has big round eyes and big breasts. She is wearing a revealing dress that emphasizes her breasts but has a shawl on around her shoulders because the air-conditioner is adjusted to men
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who wear long-sleeved shirts or suits and it is too cold for the hostesses with only a skimpy dress. She is chubby and has a temperament that relaxes people. However, she gets aggressive and sometimes even rude when she is very drunk, but she was still sober that night. Her story about her life at the North Korean school was interesting and we were all curious about it. Some of the hostesses including myself asked her questions and she was happy to share her stories with us, but when Yoko, one of the chi-mamas noticed that Mr. Miyamoto wanted to say something she called out, Hey, everybody. Talk about that later! So we had to come back to the conversation with Mr. Miyamoto. He was drinking whiskey straight-up one after another and getting progressively more and more drunk. He explained:

I had a bad day at work. I know some Chinese night clubs that have gorgeous girls, but I came here because I need to talk in Japanese. I know that you guys are not really listening to me. When you say, Oh really? (a, snandesuka?) I know that you are just saying it and that doesnt mean anything. But thats okay too. I just want to spend time with Japanese girls without talking about things like my job or customers.

He seemed to enjoy arguing with the girls too. I sensed that, whatever it was, he always needed some response to what he said. He sometimes said to the hostesses, No, thats not true! or You shouldnt say that! but was not seriously angry. We were talking about the possibility of customers falling in love with a hostess and becoming a couple.
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Then suddenly, Yumiko interrupted:

I couldnt tell anybody if I met my boyfriend in a place like this. It is too embarrassing. I am sure men would feel the same way. They would never tell their family or friends that their girlfriend used to work in mizu shbai! It is too shameful.

Yumiko is 36 years old and is not a regular hostess at Club J. She has a day-time job and only when Club J is short-staffed, she helps out at the club. Since she worked in the daytime, she was dressed like an OL (female office worker), casual suits with collars with fake fur. Her statement was obviously out of place, but none of the girls seemed to be offended and nobody took it personally. I inferred from this that they did not think the hostesses at Club J were in mizu shbai. That was why they did not get angry at her for saying that mizu shbai is shameful. One of the other hostesses said, But that happens sometimes! You can just say that you met him in a gkon or something! and Mr. Miyamoto agreed:

Yeah, thats right. Thats no big deal. Actually, my girlfriend used to be a prostitute (utteta ko dakara literally selling herself)! Of course I dont want to imagine that she was sleeping with other men, but it cannot be helped. She is not doing it anymore, so it is okay. She lives in Shenzhen and I pay her rent. I need to go to China once or twice a week and stay there.

The hostesses were all amused and one of them asked him, Wow, but do you
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not feel guilty in front of your wife and children? I was surprised again, because it was also not something that hostesses, who are supposed to say pleasant things to customers and make them feel good, should ask. However, I think she could not help it because she lives with her married boyfriend and is curious about mens feelings. Other hostesses too, waited for his response curiously. As far as I have seen, most of the hostesses help each other by providing topics and if one of them asks a question to the customer, the other hostesses nod and listen to what the customer has to say. After that question, Mr. Miyamoto appeared to be offended for the first time and responded curtly, Of course I know that I am doing a bad thing! All the men know that it is bad to cheat on their wives so dont ask such a stupid question! He might have reacted this way because the hostess reminded him of what he was worried and felt bad about. By that time, he was already very drunk and excused himself to the washroom. Upon returning to the table it was clear that he had forgotten that he told us about his girlfriend in Shenzhen. Mr. Miyamoto said that he had a bad day at work but did not want to share the details. He eventually stayed in the club almost until the club closed. When he came to the bar, he said that he was going to have a drink and stay only for an hour but he actually stayed almost for five hours and finished one bottle of whiskey. Maybe he didnt want to have time to think about what happens at work when he is alone at home.

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After 10:00pm, other customers came to the club. Lee patted me on the shoulder and told me to go to table No.1 and some of the other hostesses went to the other tables too. Usually he changes girls every 15 minutes, but the frequency also depends on the number of the hostesses and the customers and of course if regular customers request, their favorite hostesses can stay with them longer. The reason for rotating the girls is to make the customers want to talk to the girls once again by changing their tables, sometimes in the middle of a conversation so that the customers stay longer or come back. After I said Shitsureishimasu, goyukkuri (would you please excuse me? Please enjoy and have a good time) to Mr. Miyamoto, I went to table No.1. On the way to table No. 1, I saw Lee and Yuka talking. Yuka is 29 years old and is very pretty. She has black hair and long eyelashes. She does not have a lot of experience with men and therefore is very shy and is easily scared when the customers try to touch her or tease her. Lee was scolding her because she said something very impolite to the customer who kept trying to touch her breasts. Lee usually says that the hostesses can refuse if the customers try to touch them, but he just told her to treat the customers nicely.

At table No. 1, there were two customers, Mr. Kuroki, who works at a branch of a Japanese middle-sized trading company and one of his staff who works in
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Shenzhen. Mr. Kuroki was in his early fifties, he is tall and had a mustache. He talked slowly in a low voice and he might have had many girlfriends in his early years. His family is in Japan and other hostesses told me that he lived with his young girlfriend now. This was the second time I served him and he remembered what I was doing. Since he asked me how my study was going, I asked him about his opinion on other Japanese men in Hong Kong saying that it was related to my research. He was critical about Japanese men in Hong Kong who are into Chinese or Korean hostess girls and spend a lot of money on them. He said:

I have a lot of experience with women in Japan too, but men who have not had any relationships with women other than their wives get a wrong idea that they are very popular among women in Hong Kong or China. They dont know that it is just their money that the girls want!

As Kuroki told his story,Yukari-mama came to that table too. She was already drunk and crashed on the seat saying Konbanwaaa!! (Good evening). She usually comes to work after 10 pm often after having dinner with her customers. She made a very strong whiskey with water for herself and started drinking. Some customers do not like it because she pours too much whiskey or brandy for herself from their bottles but she is too busy so she often goes to the other table before she finishes it. In response to Kurokis story, she started telling us about the Japanese men who got involved in a
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relationship with a hostess and ruined their lives. She said that she knew the story of a man who was seriously in love with a Chinese hostess and got trapped by Chinese mafia with whom the girl had a connection. Yukari said that he was suspected of possessing drugs and is now in prison. She is very good at this kind of topic which draws the attention of customers. Whether the stories are true or not, she has the skill of storytelling so even hostesses get interested and want to listen to her stories. Mr. Kuroki went back to the topic of Japanese men in Hong Kong and continued:

Well, there are many men who come to this kind of hostess clubs just for talking, but there are some who have an intention to hit on hostesses (shitagokoro ga aru). Especially men who designate one girl every time are dangerous.they could become stalkers!!

At that time, my assumption was that men come to Club J purely because they want to talk and relax, so I was confused to hear that.

After about 30minutes, Lee called me again: Go to table No. 5. Table No. 5 is the smallest table in the corner. Mr. Kanda, who is one of the regular customers, was there. He always comes alone and chooses this table. I had a dhan dinner with him once. He is 42 years old and used to work at a branch of a Japanese company in Hong Kong but quit and found a new job at an American company in Hong Kong. When he
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was still an employee of the Japanese company, he lived in Hong Kong by himself and his wife and son were in Japan, but they all live together now. He told me about his story proudly:

When my wife was not here, I had an affair twice with two different housewives. It was fun and I liked them but we knew that both of us were married so it was not serious.

I got the impression that he thought that it was easy to have a fling with a Japanese housewife. He was not the first customer who told me that he had an affair with more than one Japanese housewife and I was shocked by that. They seem to believe that all Japanese housewives are bored and are seeking for an affair. He asked me whether I am interested in this kind of extra-marital relationship and I answered No. He then said, You are saying that now, but you will never know!! He seemed to be very confident. He asked me out on Sunday, but I politely declined. His wife has a job and is always busy so he seems to have more freedom to do what he wants to do than other men who live with their families in Hong Kong.

After Kandas table, I was told to go to table No. 4. There were two men in their mid-thirties. One was Fujita who worked for a Japanese construction company and
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his coworker Ikeno. They were relatively young as customers at Club J. Both of them were married but live in Hong Kong alone. Fujita was 33 years old but had gray hair, so he looked a bit older than his age and Mr. Ikeno was 31 years old. When I told them that I was married and live in Hong Kong by myself, they got interested. They never made comments that I often hear, such as, Your husband must be a very understanding and nice man because he let you go! or You are strange! How could you do that? A married couple must stay together!! They just wanted to know why I decided to study abroad and how my marriage was going now. Then suddenly Mr. Fujita started talking about himself.

I am seriously thinking about getting divorced. We have been married for 6 years and we have 2 daughters. Of course I love my daughters but I dont think I love my wife anymore. Before I came to Hong Kong, I really wanted to make our marriage work, so I made a great effort. Both of us were working, and I was very busy at that time. I had been working at a construction site and did not get to see my wife everyday because I had to leave home very early and come back very late. I felt guilty, so I did my best to make it work. I got up early and made miso soup for her breakfast and left a note when I could. However, she was getting colder and colder and didnt talk to me at all. I am not sure if I still love my wife, but we have children so we should try again. If they come to Hong Kong to live with me, something will be different. But my wifes mother told me, divorce my daughter please. What should I do???

He seemed to be desperate and obviously wanted to talk to somebody about this. He probably knew that he would not get any answers or solutions from me, but he just kept
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talking. He asked me, I want to talk to you more. Can we go somewhere after this club is closed? But I was very tired, so just said, Sorry, I cant because I have something to do early in the morning. Please send me an e-mail later! He might have wanted to drink until he gets very drunk and then go home and collapse on the bed without thinking about anything anymore, not unlike other customers who live alone in Hong Kong.

When I was talking to Mr. Fujita, the waitress brought them the bill. There are customers who pay cash but many of them pay by credit card. I have seen some customers who come in a group and split the bill but usually the eldest one pays. On the bill, it is clearly stated how long they stayed and how much their drinks cost. After the bills were settled, all the lights are turned on. This is the sign that it is two oclock and Club J is going to close soon. The customers who are still there until the club closes seem a bit uncomfortable and say, Okay.that means it is time to go home! Mr. Fujita wanted to stay and talk more when the lights were turned on at 2 am, but I walked him and Mr. Ikeno to the elevator hall to see them off. There were some other hostesses who were seeing their customers off too. The elevator arrived and all the customers there got in and the hostesses, including myself bowed and said, Thank you so much! Good night. After that, I went back to the club with other hostesses. The club
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without the customers with the lights on looked like a stage after a play. Yukari-mama and the manager, Lee, were at the counter talking about how many customers came and how much profit they made that day. I went to the backroom and punched my time card. Some of the hostesses were saying that they would have a light meal at the kapp with one of the customers and asked me to come with them. But I didnt join that night because I declined Mr. Fujitas offer already and was actually very tired. That night was fun and I felt lucky that I had customers who talked a lot. If the customers do not talk much, the hostesses continuously have to provide a topic and it is tough.


In the first part of this chapter, I described the interior and the table arrangement of the club. The dcor and furniture are chosen to make the club look like a home and relaxed. They did not leave out the Japanese touches, like shji screens or Japanese flower arrangements. There are no flashy lights or decorations there.

If I compare the customers on Fridays and the ones on Tuesdays, there is not much difference, but the customers on Fridays look more relaxed and seem to hate to go home because most of them do not have to work on Saturdays. On Fridays, there are
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more customers than other weekdays and the busy atmosphere itself makes me tired. I work about five hours and the last two hours feel especially long. After the long day, I realized that most of the customers I waited for that day had something in common. Their situations are all different, but they all seem to be lonely.

Fujitas case is similar. He stayed until 2 am and wanted to go for a drink after that. He did not need time to be alone. Mr. Kandas family is in Hong Kong, so the situation is different from Miyamotos and Fujitas who are tanshin funin. Mr. Kandas wife has her career and is busy. She is sometimes out of Hong Kong on business. I suppose that she does not have so much time to spend with him, so that might be the reason why he asked me out on Sunday. The customers who come with their coworkers or staff tend to talk about general things, not their private life except if they were close friends. On that day, I felt that men who came to the club try to kill the time that they do not want to spend alone at home. Some of them do not say sabishii (feeling lonely) directly, but this is one of the important reasons why they come to Club J: to have conversations with the hostesses.

Before I started my research, I was concerned that men might not want to talk about their private lives and love affairs because the Japanese community in Hong
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Kong is quite small and rumors circulate easily. However, on the contrary, they wanted to talk about their extra-marital relationship as if it was something to be proud of. Mr. Miyamoto said that he had a girl friend in Shenzhen whom he took care of. After I met him in the club, I had a chance to have dinner with him and the other hostess. He was not drunk then but still kept telling us how unfaithful he was to his wife when he was first transferred to Taiwan and also told us that he got diseases as a result of playing around with different girls. Mr. Kuroki said Japanese men who came to Hong Kong and suddenly play around with girls are stupid and get fooled by those girls very easily because they are nave and do not know so much about women. He also emphasized that he is different from them because he had enough experiences with women both in Japan and Hong Kong and is smart enough to avoid the trap.

One of the reasons why they voluntarily talk about their extra-marital affairs is that they want to draw and hold the attention of hostess girls in their conversation because the girls are always keen on knowing about mens behavior. More importantly, the motivation for the men to brag about their sexual lives might be that they want to show the girls that they attracted many girls sexually and financially and confirm their masculine abilities. Some of the customers also hope that the girls in the club would show the same interest in them as other girls they had met before. It was quite obvious
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that Mr. Kanda wanted to convince me that married women having an affair is easy and fun and not an unusual thing at all.

Finally, the hostesses are not professional and so they do not pay so much attention to their behavior or comments. They sometimes make statements that hostesses are not supposed to. Lee tries to control these amateur hostesses by keeping an eye on them and scolding them when they have bad manners, but he cannot monitor all conversations between the customers and hostesses. It seems that the Mama-sans job in the club is to entertain the customers with her stories and drink with them. She is not particularly strict about the girls behavior. If she finds some girls behavior inappropriate, for example, a girl getting very drunk and passing out, she just says, Oh, sorry. We are all that happens. She obviously wants to appeal to the customers notion of the girls as ordinary by saying this.

In the next chapter, I will examine more closely these amateur hostesses who work in Club J and introduce some case studies. I will show how the Mama-san recruits girls and why the girls come to Hong Kong and work at Club J.

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Chapter 4

The Hostesses


To understand the meaning of the hostess club in Hong Kong such as Club J better, I think it is essential to approach the supply side. Chapter 3 began this analysis

with an examination of the management on that supply side but a more critical element remains: the hostesses themselves. After I started my fieldwork, I realized that the Mama-sans strategy especially in recruiting women worked very well on the assumption that Japanese men in Hong Kong need an opportunity to talk to ordinary Japanese girls. In this chapter, I shall describe how the Mama-san recruits the girls and who applies for the job and who actually gets a job there. Then I will introduce stories of some of the hostesses I met at Club J. In so doing, I attempt to find out how their identity as amateur hostesses acts on the process of creating a Japanese style hostess club in Hong Kong.

General Profile of the Hostesses

There are usually around 10 girls working at Club J including 2 Chi-mamas.

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Yukari-mama constantly puts a lot of help-wanted ads on different kinds of websites that young women might look at, such as websites for travel, job information, cross-cultural communication etc. One such advertisement reads,

I am an owner of a members club in Hong Kong. I am looking for ladies who can help us. Our club is very fashionable and our customers are all elites. You can do sightseeing or study languages while you are staying in Hong Kong. We have a nice dormitory and we also pay for your air ticket. Please send me e-mail for details. It doesnt matter whether your stay is on a short-term or long-term basis. I am sure you will have a memorable stay.

According to Yukari, many of the girls who respond to her ads love Hong Kong and want to stay in Hong Kong by any means. Some of them have made backpack trips to Hong Kong many times. They come to Hong Kong to enjoy living here, not as just as a tourist. They enjoy shopping, eating and sightseeing in the daytime and work at Club J at night. There are also girls who are Hong Kong star groupies (okkake). They dont say that this is the main reason, but they do like a Hong Kong star and that is why they got interested in Hong Kong in the first place. They attend some meetings for fans in Hong Kong. I heard that one of the girls who worked at Club J was interviewed and was in one of the Hong Kong newspapers when one of the most popular Hong Kong stars, Leslie Cheung committed suicide in April 2003.

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A lot of the girls come to work at Club J while looking for a fulltime job as an office worker (OL) in Hong Kong or China. Some of them take a language course (Cantonese or Mandarin) in the daytime and work at Club J at night. Most of them get a job through a customer. When I was doing my fieldwork, five out of the 13 girls found a job (four in China, one in Hong Kong) through a customers introduction and quit Club J. There are also girls who have fulltime jobs in Japan. They take a holiday and come to Hong Kong and work at Club J. Those girls just want to have a different experience and get out of their OL life in Japan for a little while.

Yukari-mama further explained,

we dont have any special conditions for the girls, but of course, they shouldnt be ugly ones. Actually I prefer ordinary girls (futs no ko). The girls whose character is not bad, who are accepting and honest (sunao) and dont know too much about the world or men (surete nai). Such girls get prettier once they start working at the club. Girls who gain favor with the customers are the ones who are quick-witted or who are pretty but say funny things naturally (tennenboke). On the other hand, the girls who are unpopular are the ones who are presumptuous (zzshii) and push it even though they are ugly.

Yukaris remark on girls reminds me of the yamato nadeshiko type which means traditional modest Japanese women. All of the three positive words that Yukari used to describe the girls whom she prefers to have are very difficult to translate into English.
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Sunao na ko (sunao girls) are mild-mannered and those who listen to people acceptingly and do not talk back. Sunao is sometimes translated as submissive or obedient but it does not have any negative connotation. Suretenai is the opposite of the word sureteiru, which is usually used to describe a person who has lost his/her shyness and purity through experience. Tennenboke is quite a new word and is used for a person who says stupid, funny or sometimes sexual things without thinking or meaning it. Tennenboke girls are supposed to be cute and funny in Japan. Yukari tries to look for ordinary girls with characters that might appeal to Japanese men in Hong Kong who miss things that are traditionally Japanese. Those girls who they commonly meet in Japan are precious in Hong Kong. Girls who are interested in the advertisement send e-mails to Yukari and usually Papa-san (Yukaris husband who is now in Japan) interviews them and is the one to make the decision. Papa-sans criteria in choosing girls are same as Yukaris. He said, We dont need any professional hostesses. The only professional in our club is Mama (Yukari) and thats enough. When they need girls immediately, they do not even have an interview beforehand. The girls just come to Hong Kong and start working.

What is the contract or the condition for employment for these amateur hostesses then? Chi-mamas contract is for 2-3 years but other hostesses do not have
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such a contract and work as long as they want. Some of them plan to be here only for a couple of weeks because they simply like Hong Kong and are looking for a new experience. Because the hostesses come and go within a short period of time (the manager said that the club has had more than 450 girls in five years time) and there are only two chi-mamas who have a long-term contract, Club J is constantly short-staffed. When they have only five or six hostesses, Yukari calls her female friends or the girls who used to work there to ask for help.

Under these circumstances, most of the hostesses of the Club J do not have any experience as professional hostesses and are quite relaxed about their work. Yukari-mama is not very strict about their behavior, either. One girl who helps the club from time to time gets heavily drunk every time she works at the club. She gets out of control once she starts drinking. I saw her lie on the floor of the club, on the sofa or in the backroom. Yukari does not scold her and still asks her to come to help. Yukari herself gets drunk very often. When she is obviously drunk, the manager brings her a glass of cold tea and substitutes it for the glass of whiskey she was drinking.

This de-emphasis on professionalism leaves open the question of hostesses reasons and motivations to perform this work. To understand this aspect of the
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supply-side, I will introduce the background of some of the hostesses at Club J and their lives as hostesses to show why they choose to work at Club J and what they think about their jobs. I will also describe their relationship with the customers and how they react to them based on the interviews I conducted outside of the club and the observations I made in the club.

Tomoko When I started my fieldwork, Tomoko was the newest girl in the club. She was 20 years old and was from Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. When she was a college student, she went to the United States to take a short language course. She met a boy who was from Hong Kong in the language school. After several months of the long-distance relationship, she decided to come to Hong Kong to spend more time with him. She lived in a service apartment in Causeway Bay by herself because her boyfriend lived with his parents. When I met her, she was a part-time hostess and was going to a language school to learn Cantonese. After finishing the course, she became a full-time hostess and moved into a flat owned by Club J9. She had not told her boyfriend that she worked as a hostess and she never would. She lied to him saying that she worked at Kapp J. From time to time, her boyfriend came to Causeway Bay after

Club J rents some flats in a building just 1 minute walk a way from the club and provide all the full-time hostesses these flats for free. Usually 3 girls share one flat. - 93 -

2:00am to pick her up. Every time she saw her boyfriend, she ran away from the group of hostesses and pretended that she was not amongst the group. When she started working, she did not yet have a mobile phone so a regular customer in his early sixties bought her one. She was happy and said, arigat gozaimasu (thank you very much)! to him. Their age difference was like that of grandfather and granddaughter. Although she was young and her girlish outfits and round face made her look even younger, she was quite good with customers. I asked her whether she had any experience in the mizu shbai because her conversations with the customers were quite smooth. She

said that she did the same kind of work as a part-time job in Japan. She was too young for most of the customers to treat her as a woman but she was cheerful and easy to talk to, so the customers liked to tease her. However, one customer, Mr. Ishida in his early thirties had a crush on her. He was single and worked for a Japanese manufacturing company. He frequently took her for shopping or for dinner. When she moved into the dormitory, he bought her new beddings. One day she called me and said,

Mr. Ishida took me shopping and spent around HK$ 10,000!! He bought me a Louis Vuitton bag and other stuff. Of course I was happy to get all those things but I am kind of scared now.also my boyfriend asked me how I got those expensive things and I just told him that there was a stalker who was chasing me around. Mr. Ishida is getting serious and keeps asking me to marry him.
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As long as he just favored her and bought things for her, he was a good customer, but she did not have any special feelings for Mr. Ishida, so the word marriage must have scared her. After a few weeks, I asked Tomoko about him again and she said, Well, he became creepy so I told him honestly that I didnt like him and not to come to the club anymore. Despite this experience, she is now trying very hard to do dhan10 with other customers as often as possible. The last time I met her, she was really ambitious and wanted to be the No.1 hostess at Club J. Her real dream was to become a pop singer in Hong Kong, but she seemed to want to be popular as a hostess among the customers for now.

It seems to me that Tomoko really liked her boyfriend. She showed me his picture with her family and told me how much she liked him and that she always wanted to be with him. Therefore, it was convincing that she came all the way to Hong Kong for him. She just needed money to be in Hong Kong, therefore, she got the job as a hostess. She also got money for her language school from Mr. Ishida. As she was getting more dhan dinner with different customers, she started enjoy being a popular hostess. However, what made her stay in Hong Kong was still her boyfriend and her dream to be a star in Hong Kong. She was just enjoying the sensation of popularity and

A dhan graph is put on the wall in the restroom for the hostesses. All the girls can see who gets most dhan this month and in the last three months. - 95 -

the attentions of customers. However, she was not as professional as she thought, because she was scared and refused to get intimate with the customers when they got too serious. She does not have giji renai skills to make good use of his feelings.

Kanako Kanako was a 22-year old hostess from Osaka. She came to Hong Kong with the hope of working as a hairstylist. Before she graduated high school she decided to go to a beauticians school in Osaka. Therefore, she had a long experience of working as a hairstylist in Japan for her age. She had studied Cantonese a little bit before she came to Hong Kong so she understood daily conversation. She had a Hong Kong Chinese boyfriend when I first met her, but after a few months she told me that they had broken up. After the break up, she did not lose her enthusiasm for living in Hong Kong. Her ex-boyfriend was most likely not the main reason she wanted to come to Hong Kong in the first place. She was not the kind of girl typically considered as pretty; she was chubby and had fair skin. She had small eyes but long eyelashes that made her look doll-like. She was not very talkative and did not try hard to entertain customers although she was quite popular among some regular customers. She had more dhan than other hostesses and some customers always wanted to keep her at their table. Some element of her personality held the attraction that helped to interest men. She spoke
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Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect) slowly in a soft voice, which might sound appealing, especially to men who are not from Kansai district.

One day, she had lunch with one of the customers and he was impressed by her eagerness to find a job as a hair stylist. He introduced Kanako to a woman who owns a hair salon in Hong Kong. She visited the woman but she had enough staff, so the woman introduced her friend who also owned a salon to Kanako. Kanako was finally offered a job and obtained a work visa. She was very happy to work in the salon and said,

I think I could not continue the hostessing job anymore.I was really tired of it. I feel very weird when I talk to Tomoko recently. We were very close when I lived in the dormitory with her, but I know that there will be a certain distance between us from now on. Tomoko changed.she is too keen on getting customers who take her to dhan. I feel like it is not my world anymore.

It seemed that she was very proud of her job as a hair dresser now and wants to forget that she was a hostess. Kanako and Tomoko were good friends before Kanako quit and I sometimes joined them for a drink after work. When we were drinking in a bar that Yukari runs, Kanako told me that she liked one of the customers very much. I did not know that customer but she said that he was in his early forties and married, but had no
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children. They had several dates after she got off work and already had a sexual relationship, but she knew that he was not serious. One day, when we were talking in the bar, that customer walked in. Kanako was very nervous and seemed to be distracted. When he left the bar, she saw him to the elevator hall and called him after that. She said that she was tired of waiting for his call and chasing after him, knowing that he would never be involved in a serious relationship with her.

I returned to Japan for one month after that and then came back to Hong Kong. I called Kanako and we met in a small caf near her dormitory. She said that she was quitting the hostess job in one weeks time, and she had an appointment of dhan every night that week. I asked about the customer that she talked about and she said, I am over him now. ActuallyI am in love with somebody else. I was surprised and asked who it was. It is a person who Mayu-san knows. She finally confessed it was Okuda who was one of the regular customers. Okuda stood out in the club because he was good-looking and relatively young for a customer of Club J. He was 35 years old and married. When I waited on him, he said that he wanted a baby soon. I got the impression that he was getting along with his wife because not many customers wanted to talk about their wives in the club. Kanako also said,

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I liked him since I first met him, but I was told by the other hostesses that he loved his wife very much so I should not fall in love with him. Even so, he always said that he likes me in front of everyone. One day he asked me out and we had a date.we both got drunk and went to a hotel. But we were too drunk so nothing happened. After that day, we went to a hotel 5-6 times but we made love only once. Actually I just met him last night and he said that we should not meet anymore. It was really hard for both of us, but it cannot be helped. He does not want to get divorced so we have no choice. I will go back to Osaka for a couple of weeks before I start working in the hair salon so I hope I can start my new life after that and get over him.

After she came back to Hong Kong we met again. Kanako said,

We are still seeing each other. We went to a bar last night and got drunk He says that his feelings are really troublesome because he likes me not only as a woman, but also as a person.

Okuda said that probably because he wanted to stress that he loved her not as a hostess but respected as a person. At some point, she was not one of the hostesses who he met at Club J, but became somebody who he respected. However, it seemed to me that Okuda wanted to keep his marriage because he told her that she should find somebody else, because he could not marry her. Also, Mama-san and other regular customers who knew his wife thought that Okuda was happily married and believed that he would never cheat on his wife. Kanako said,

Okuda-san seems to not really want to have sex with me. I feel like it is kind of
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sabishii (something is missing, in this context) but I am fine with that too. He introduces me to his friends and takes me to the parties too that he was invited to. You know, the community of Japanese people in Hong Kong is very small. I am worried that his wife will find out sooner or later.

In contrast to her words, she did not look so worried but even proud. She probably wanted to show that their relationship was not just a fling based on a sexual interest. She dreamed about marrying Okuda, so she seemed to wish to some extent that his wife would find out and their marriage would fail. Looking from the standpoint of Okuda, he did not look for only sexual satisfaction in the relationship with Kanako, but something else that he could not get or feel at home even with his wife who he loved. Other hostesses told me that Okudas wife was attentive and Okuda wore the pants at home. He might want something more fun with Kanako drinking together, talking about their lives, going to Karaoke, without worrying about being a husband or a breadwinner.

As shown in Kanako and Okudas case, hostesses and customers could fall in love at Club J. They first meet as hostess and customer, but when they fall in love, they tend to try to break this hostess-customer relationship. Kanako, who is a hairdresser now, does not want to remember the time when she worked as a hostess and never goes there to help after she quit even though Yukari asked her to do so. In Okudas eyes too,
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Kanako is no longer a hostess. He tries to show that he respects her as a person. He even takes her to the club with other friends and she visits the club as a customer now.

Lucy Lucy was the only Hong Kong Chinese Hostess in Club J. As a rule, Yukari-mama does not hire any non-Japanese girls, but Lucy was an exception. She was a part-time hostess and worked from 9:00pm to 1:00am, from Monday to Friday. She spoke fluent Japanese although she had never been to Japan, but her tanned skin and hair style made her look different from other Japanese hostesses so one could easily tell that she was not Japanese. She acted differently too she did not try hard to please customers but joined the conversation only when she was interested in the topic. If a customer tried to touch her, she got angry and said flatly, no! Its not that kind of place!!!

After graduating high school, she worked for a local company for a while but quit and started studying Japanese with her friend. While studying Japanese in the daytime, she worked at a Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay that Yukari frequented before she opened her own kapp. When she met Lucy there, she asked Lucy if she wanted to work in the kapp which she was going to open one at that time. Yukari
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scouted her because she had a nice figure and spoke very good Japanese. Her interview took place in Club J because the kapp was not ready yet. Lucy thought that it might be a better idea to work at Club J, not at the kapp because she wanted to improve her Japanese. Yukari said okay although it was an exception because she liked Lucys appearance and her fluency in Japanese. Were you not worried to work at a hostess club? I asked her this question because, to my knowledge, being a hostess is always associated with prostitution in Hong Kong. She answered, yes I was. So I asked Mama-san to make sure that I do not have sex with customers. In the daytime, she worked at a Japanese electronic components company. One day we had lunch together near her office. Our conversation was particularly helpful in providing a different viewpoint on this Japanese style club and its customers through her impressions, and I quote from it here:

Mayumi: Why did you start working in the daytime too? Isnt it too hard? Lucy: Yes, it is hard but I wanted a job as an office clerk too. You cannot continue the hostess job when you are in your thirties.after all, it is just a pretty face and a good figure. Once you lose these things, you cannot do this job anymore. Mayumi: But there are many hostesses who are in their thirties at Club J, right? Lucy: Well, they are Japanese so they can. You can find something in common with
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the customers very easily, like a topic about your hometown. But I cannot. So my appearance and youth are very important. Mayumi: How did you get that job at the Japanese company? Lucy: I kept telling the customers that I was looking for a job. Then one of the regular customers offered me a job. Mayumi: What do you think about the job as a hostess in a Japanese night club like Club J? Lucy: As a Hong Kong Chinese, I thought it was really strange. Because this kind of club is not common in Hong Kong men pay a lot of money just for talking and drinking with girls! In Hong Kong, usually other kinds of (sexual) services are offered too. One time, some Japanese customers brought their Chinese customers to the club and a Chinese customer asked me whether we offer a service after. It is natural for them to think that way because it is normal in Hong Kong or China. Mayumi: Isnt the hostessing job tough? Lucy: No, it is okay.

Mayumi: Are there any offensive customers? Lucy: Iruiru (Yes there are)(excitingly)!! Most of the customers who come to Club J expect to talk to Japanese girls. They ask me immediately when I am seated,
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you arent Japanese, are you? and just keep watching TV the whole time and ignore me! I still try to talk to them because it is my job and ask questions like, saikin isogashii desuka? (Are you busy recently?) But they just nod or say yes or no bluntly then watch TV again. They really piss me off but I have no choice especially when we are short-staffed. Mayumi: Yes, some customers are really hard to deal with.. Lucy: Also, I met a customer who had a wrong idea about this club. Maybe he successfully had sex with one of the hostesses I cannot tell you her name here, but she quit the club so you do not know her anyway. One day I had lunch with him and the hostess. After that he said, We will take a walk and then disappeared with her. In the evening, she came to work accompanied by him. That means that they spent the whole afternoon together, right? He actually told me that he went to a hotel with her afterwards. After that, he seemed to believe that every girl could do that. Mayumi: I did not know that..does this happen often? Lucy: I think so. Some customers do have sexual relationships with the hostesses.

Mayumi: Have you ever been asked out by the customers? Lucy: Yes, they are very persistent. One customer asked me out many times whether I could have sex with him if he pays more. I said, No three times then he
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finally understood. I also do not go for a dhan dinner. Mama-san pushes me to do this, but I dont think I have to because I am just a part-timer. I never do overtime like other girls do because I dont get paid for that. Mayumi: How long do you think you are going to work at Club J? Lucy: Until next year.

Mayumi: Does your boyfriend know that you are doing this part-time job? Lucy: No way! How can I tell him? He thinks I am a bartender. So do my other friends.

She said that she was doing the hostessing job to improve her Japanese while earning some pocket money. She does not make an effort to please customers and sometimes gives me a sign that she does not like the customer when we are at the same table. I had the impression that she is more realistic and practical than other Japanese hostesses. As Lucy herself said, most of the customers came to Club J to talk with Japanese girls. One of the hostesses at Club J said to me, who comes to this club to talk to a Hong Kong girl? A customer told me that he felt insulted when the manager sent Lucy to him. So the manager always tries to let Lucy serve the regular customers because he knows that they come to the club anyway. Some regular customers do like her, but basically she is more or less out of place there because of the concept of the club and the expectation of
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the customers who visit it.

Lucys Japanese is fine, but she does not look or act like Japanese and does not even try. She is just being herself at the club. The reaction of some customers to her shows that they come to the club to talk to Japanese girls, but not only for the conversation in Japanese. They want to feel something Japanese. Like Lucy said, that could be something about their hometown, food and they want to share the feelings with Japanese girls at Club J.

Lucy mentioned about the customers who talk about extended services. Although the customers are supposed to know that Club J is a Japanese style hostess bar which does not offer sexual services and they usually do not bother to ask, but some customers do expect that once they get closer and become intimate with the hostesses. However, I have hardly ever heard from the other Japanese hostesses that the customers at Club J offered more money and asked the hostesses for sexual services. It is possible that some customers have asked Lucy on the assumption that she could do that because she is a Chinese hostess.

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Yoko Yoko was one of the Chi-mamas at Club J. She was 31 years old and has been in Hong Kong for one and a half years. After graduating from a prestigious junior college in Tokyo, she worked in a small trading company in Japan but quit to come to Hong Kong. She had signed a three-year contract with Club J but did not have a proper visa yet. She used to live in a very expensive apartment with a maid above the MTR station. I wondered how she could afford that and other hostesses told me that she was from a rich family so her father sent money to her. When I met her, she lived in a flat that belonged to a hotel near the railroad station which must be expensive too. I always wondered why she was in Hong Kong doing this hostessing job although she obviously did not need to do that for money and it did not seem like she was interested in Hong Kong itself. Finally I had a chance to talk to her in person because Yoko and Kanako were close and Kanako invited Yoko along once when we went out for a drink. I asked Yoko why she came to Hong Kong in the first place and she said,

My ex-boyfriend was Chinese-American. We met in Tokyo but he moved to Hong Kong for business and I followed him. Since I knew the Mama-san already at that time, I could start this job right after I arrived here.

In fact, her father did not send her money. She lived in an expensive apartment with her
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boyfriend at that time. I asked her further about her life in Hong Kong. She said that she now has a different boyfriend who had been a customer at Club J. Her boyfriend was married but tanshin funin. His wife and children were in Japan so he lived by himself and she moved into his apartment.

I really liked him from the beginning. He seemed indifferent to me but we had dinner together several times and I even went to his place and stayed there many times. But he kept telling me that I shouldnt do this and let me stay on the sofa! It took almost one month before we got intimate. Right after we started this relationship, he told me to move in with him. I left my Chinese-American boyfriend for him and moved into his apartment.

It is surprising that his wife had not found out yet. Yoko told me that his wife had a full-time job and was very busy with taking care of the three children, therefore she could not come to Hong Kong very often. Yoko said,

His wife came to Hong Kong only once after I moved in. It was no joke!! I had to move all of my stuff to different friends places. I get a headache when I think I might have to do it again sooner or later. If that happens, can I put some of my stuff in Mayu-sans place for a while?

I visited their flat several times. It was decorated with many pictures of Yoko and her boyfriend and there was a lot of her stuff. It seemed like a married couples apartment. On Sundays, he invited his friends to his place and Yoko prepared dinner for them. One
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day, I went to Shenzhen with Yoko to do some shopping and she introduced her boyfriend to me after shopping because he was in Shenzhen for a company gathering. He brought some of his coworkers and we all had dinner together. They already knew about Yoko and treated her very naturally. I could tell that her boyfriend was quite serious about their relationship but it seemed that he still could not leave his family. Yoko said,

He and his wife are basically getting along and have three kids!! I know they will never get divorced. When we started dating, he always said that he had wanted his wife to come with him when he was transferred to Hong Kong, but she did not want to quit her job.

He probably still loved his wife in a way or felt responsible for his family in Japan, but did not want to be alone in Hong Kong, therefore decided to live with Yoko despite the risk of being found out. Yoko wanted to get out of this unstable relationship and get married and have a baby but she could not leave him because she knew that he was a very good person and cared about her a lot. One day he said, when he reaches retiring age, he would give all of his retirement allowance to his family and spend the rest of his life with me. I am not sure if I love him so much that I could accept him without a dime and start our new lifewell it will be too late anyway!!

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To me, she seemed to be the smartest hostess in Club J and she was cut out for this job because she was good at talking. She could handle any kind of topics from dirty talk to economics. However, she often said she wanted to quit this job as soon as possible. She actually tried to find a daytime job in Hong Kong or China but it did not work out mainly because she could not speak either English or Mandarin. She said, I just stay here for my boyfriend. If I break up with him, I would lose the meaning of staying here Since she cooked for him most of the weekdays and then went to work, she did not try to have dhan dinner as much as other hostesses did. Even though she appeared to be a professional hostess because she could deal with any customer and entertain them, she was not. The love for her boyfriend that brought her to Hong Kong, kept here and moderated her activities as a hostess also casts doubt on her professional qualification.

Miki Miki was the second eldest hostess in Club J. She had been in Hong Kong doing this job for 2 years. She came from Okinawa and went to a university within the grounds of the U.S. military base. When she was in Japan, she had her own business and made a fortune by importing and selling Chinese diet medicine. It sold very well but one day the media reported that that medicine caused serious problems and some
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users actually died. Her company went out of business and then she became sick. After she recovered, she decided to come to Hong Kong to seek another business chance. She was still looking for a daytime job but it was not easy partly because of her age. She said that she wanted to quit but also admitted that the hostessing job was quite easy and that was why she could not leave Club J. Also the manager needed her because she was the only one who spoke good English among the girls. The manager did not speak Japanese very well (or maybe he did not want to because he wanted to show who is powerful) so Miki always translated what the manager said and told other girls. Miki was a very pure and honest person but sometimes revealed her personal feelings too easily even when she was at work. One day we were serving the same table and when the other girls were talking to the customers, she looked at me with watery eyes and said, Mayu-chan, I have a broken heart.please listen to my story. After the club was closed, I went to a hot pot restaurant near the club with Miki, Kanako and Tomoko. Miki said,

I really liked a customer named Nakata-san. We kissed once but he said, I cannot do this. I have to go back to my family. I like you a lot but I cannot betray my wife and children. I am so sad but I wont give him up because I do not think this is the end of our relationship!!

One month later, I met her in a coffee shop again and asked about Nakata. I sent him
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many e-mails but he never replied How can he do this to me? Cant we be friends at least? I cannot believe it. Later Yoko told me secretly,

I sent Nakata-san an e-mail because Miki asked me to do so.he did reply and said that he did not want to come to Club J for a while. But I could not tell Miki about that so I just told her that he never replied to me.

Miki was pretty serious about Nakata, but there was one more customer she liked very much. When Miki found out that he had a dhan dinner with another hostess, she got drunk next to him and told him in tears, do not take other girls to dinner! She was too drunk that night and the manager made her go home.

Miki had been working at Club J for 2 years and still could not be a professional hostess who is supposed to serve customers without bias. She cried a lot in the club and sometimes she slapped her ex-boyfriend on the head who visited Club J when she was drunk, but neither the manager nor Mama-san scolded her. That was probably why she said that this was quite an easy job and she could stay long although she had a dream to start her own business in Hong Kong.

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Sayaka Sayaka was another Chi-mama but very different from Yoko. Sayaka was 34 years old and the prettiest hostess in Club J and she also had experience working in mizu shbai. She used to work in a high-class hostess club in the Shinchi area of Osaka as a part-time hostess and Yukari found her and persuaded her to come to Hong Kong to work at Club J. She told the customers and other hostesses that she worked in a trading company and went to many foreign countries on business when she was in Japan. But the other hostess said,

Sayaka is a liar. How could she work as a hostess in the nighttime and have a daytime job like that? She is saying that she travelled around on business but it cannot be true because her English is not good!

When I started my fieldwork, she was still new at the club and had the most dhan dinners among the hostesses. The first thing that I noticed was the way she asked for the customers meishi (business card) and phone number. As soon as a new customer was seated, she introduced herself and gave them her meishi. Then she said, Hajimete desunode omeishi itadakemasuka. (Since this is your first visit, could you give me your card? in a soft and sexy Kyoto dialect although she was from Osaka where the accent was actually a bit different. Some of the customers gave her their card
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but the others hesitated and said something like, sorry, I do not have any todaymaybe next time. She also tried to take care of the customers in the club. Sometimes she wiped customers glasses or gave them massages. First, I thought that most of the customers liked her attentiveness but later, other hostesses told me that many customers, especially regular ones did not like her and asked the manager not to send her to their counter or table. I actually heard some of the regular customers say, I dont like Sayaka because she is too much. She is not smart enough to provide interesting topics. I dont like stupid girls

Not only the customers, but also some hostesses did not like her. She always wanted customers attention. When the customers were talking about another girl, she was very silent and looked bored. Also, she told on the other hostesses to the manager and Yukari to make herself look better, for example, Yumiko left early last night even though she still had a customer. Of course I stopped her, but she didnt listen! There were two girls who hated Sayaka and quit because of her. She often gave her expensive accessories or clothes to the younger hostesses saying, This was very expensive, but I dont use it anymore, so I give it to you. She often does this in front of the customers to make her look generous and caring.

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It was obvious that she was loosing her popularity among the customers after several months and has fewer dhan now. I always felt uncomfortable when I talked to her because it seemed like she did not open up and wanted to keep her distance. It is possible that some customers felt the same way I did. They might have felt that her friendliness and attentiveness were too shallow. However, it seemed that Yukari still thought that Sayaka was a good hostess because she was very serious about her job and tried hard to get more customers. On the one hand, she looked like a very professional hostess in the way she treated the customers and how she dressed (she often wore a revealing and tight dress), but on the other hand, she seemed as though she just wanted to confirm her attractiveness by doing the perfect-looking hostessing job to see how men reacted to it.

Working conditions

My case studies demonstrate that most of the hostesses who work at Club J did not identify themselves as hostesses because they had other reasons to come and stay in Hong Kong. In addition to that, I realized that the working conditions and the way the manager and the Mama-san treated the hostesses reinforced their identity as amateur hostesses. The hostesses were relaxed about their work and there was only a
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very small amount of tension in the club in being a good hostess. Money was a common concern among the hostesses but conditions of employment and those relationships between the hostesses and customers and between the hostesses and management all had effects on determining remuneration as well as the hostesses identities as amatures.

The wage of the hostesses at Club J is far from good. The basic monthly salary of a full-time hostess is HK$ 10,000 (approx. JY 140,000) and the hourly wage for the part-time hostesses like Lucy is HK$ 70 (JY 985). One of the Chi-mamas, Yoko gets HK$ 18,000 (JY 253,000) and she said that Sayakas salary might be a little bit higher. Considering that the hostesses are provided with accommodation in Causeway Bay, it does not seem so bad, but it is still very cheap compared to the wages of hostesses in Japan which is normally JY 2,000 3,000 per hour for part-time hostesses. There is no shimei11 system in Club J so the extra pay is only dhanry which is HK$ 50 (plus HK$ 25 if they go to Mama-sans kapp and 10% of the amount of they spent with customers at her shot bar). Also, they do not have quotas. Because the pay is not good, the hostesses do not think that they have to be professional and do not feel


Shimei is requesting the company of a specific hostess. In most of the hostess clubs in Japan, the customer who wants to shimei pays 1000-3000 yen and the hostesses usually get about one-third of it [Yamamoto 1999, 6]. - 116 -

pressured about reaching a quota or getting more shimei. Therefore, this is the best way for the girls to stay in Hong Kong for a while and not worry about money and a place to stay. I think the Mama-san is very smart because this is a win-win situation for both the hostesses and the Mama-san. She does not have to pay a lot of money because her requirement for the hostesses is not high and therefore, the hostesses are more relaxed and do not complain. More importantly, the customers expect the girls to be non-professionals; therefore, this strategy works for the customers too. I heard from a Japanese part-time hostess who works for Moonlight, which is the competitor of Club J that their business is not very good and they are trying to cut the wage of the hostesses (her wage is much better than the one at Club J she said that she got HK$ 700 for four hours). On the contrary, Yukari-mama often says, Out of the three I own (the hostess club, the shot bar and the kapp), Club J is the only one that is running in the black! It seems that Yukaris strategy for Club J is successful in taking advantage of who the hostesses/customers are and what they expect.


The professional hostesses, for example at high-class hostess clubs in Japan, are usually dressed up and behave elegantly. They deal with any kind of customers and
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read many kinds of newspapers to catch up with the customers subjects. They are more careful about their personal relationships with the customers. One veteran hostess interviewed by an English online magazine Sake-drenched Postcards reveals the secret to be a successful Mama-san, I never have sex with the customers. Everyday, I say (to my customers), I love you, I need you. But I never have sex. That keeps them coming back. If there is sex, they are gone. Some high-class hostess clubs in Japan ban hostesses from having an afut (after)12 to avoid the customers and hostesses in getting too close (Yamamoto 2000, 37).

However, most hostesses at Club J would not identify themselves as professional hostesses and they do not even try to be one. They did not come to Hong Kong to become hostesses and also they do not get paid so well therefore they do not need to be professionals. They are just doing this job temporarily and casually. Compared to those high-class clubs in Japan, Club J is quite lax and the hostesses do not have an awareness of being a hostess, therefore they fall in love with the customers quite easily.


Afut means going to have a meal or go for karaoke with the hostesses after the club closed. The customers of Club J usually take the hostesses to Mama-sans Kapp or a Korean restaurant or Chinese style casual restaurant because they stay open very late. - 118 -

Kawabata points out, in the (hostess) club which is a staged hetero-sexual society, it seems that there is some effect that allows women to have a desire for happiness or feeling of loneliness because of the distrust of men and this distrust turns into the expectation that not all men are like that, (Kawabata 2003:42). This might be true of the hostesses at Club J too. More important reasons for falling in love with the customers might also be that they are simply lonely in a foreign country. They feel uneasy in a foreign country no matter what the motivation originally was and unconsciously seek a relationship with a man who could mentally support them. For example, some women who came to Hong Kong to find a job and do the hostessing job during the job hunting period come to know that it is extremely difficult to get a day-time job without any special skills and the job as a hostess is the only the possibility for them in Hong Kong. Therefore, they become unstable and need a reason to stay. At this point, they are different from the women who came to Hong Kong in the 1990s to seek some satisfaction through work in a better environment, where women are allowed equal opportunities as men (Lau 1998:60). I asked one of the hostesses, why dont you want to go back to Japan then? and she answered, If I go back now, I feel like Im a loser who did not get anything done in Hong Kong. Some of the hostesses who came following their boyfriend to Hong Kong found a new lover among the customers. The reason they did so was the loneliness of being abroad and also of
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being a hostess with the associated distrust and expectations of men that encourages a desire to be with somebody who speaks their own language and who they can feel comfortable with.

The non-professional identity of the hostesses greatly contributes to making Club J an ambiguous place that appeals to Japanese men in Hong Kong. The customers know that the girls are amateurs and feel lonely and insecure in Hong Kong, and this makes it possible for them to establish a close relationship with such a girl. This is one reinforcement for their motivation to come to the club but a closer examination shows that customers are varied in their source of appeal. In the next chapter, I will examine the customers motivations based on my observation at the club and an in-depth interview I conducted.

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Chapter 5

The Customers


The most important thing for the hostess club, Club J, is to provide a quiet and comfortable place for the customers so that they can unwind and relax. However, as Allison explains, The hostess club offers a space that is not home because they are constantly reminded of the problems and responsibilities of being a husband and father. The appeal of the club that Allison studied is that customers can enjoy its luxury and status at a companys expense together with the services it offers to them and their party (Allison 1994, 36-37). This statement confirms what the Mama-san of Club J explained about the hostess clubs in Japan in that they are supposed to offer clients a luxurious atmosphere which cannot be experienced in their daily lives. However, I will show that this explanation is hard to apply to Club J and their customers because the types of customers are different and therefore the concept of the club should be different too. Also, hostess clubs and their customers before and after the bubble economy have a great difference.

The age range of the clientele at club J is quite broad, customers range from
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their early thirties to early sixties. The customers are divided into three categories; chzaiin (expatriates at Japanese companies), genchi saiy (locally hired) and jieigy (running their own business) who started up their own companies in Hong Kong usually after spending several years there as an expatriate. Generally speaking, their living standard is quite high, so their own homes in Hong Kong might look much more luxurious than the club. Since the bubble economy collapsed, many companies have reduced or cut their entertainment expense accounts, and so most of the customers come to the club at their own expense. The other important factor that makes Club J successful is that there are quite a number of tanshin funin men in Hong Kong. If men who live with their family come to the club to enjoy themselves without feeling the pressure of being a father or a breadwinner, as Allison points out, why do tanshin funin men come to the club? What do they want at the hostess club? Also, there are other reasons for the men who are not tanshin funin to come to the hostess club. In this chapter, I shall introduce four case studies of Japanese men whom I talked to and examine the meaning of the hostess club for them based on the interviews I had with them. All of the informants I will deal with in this chapter agreed to have interviews outside of the club so I could ask them more personal questions over lunch or dinner. I interviewed one person each of tanshin funin/genchi saiy, tanshin funin/jieigy , nontanshin funin (lives with his family)/expat and tanshin funin/expat.
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Case Study Sasaki Sasaki came to Club J by himself and sat at the counter. When I first waited on him, I was so nervous and a little bit scared because he had a tanned face and stared at me with his big eyes. He asked me questions that I usually get one after another such as, are you new here?, when did you come to Hong Kong and why? etc. I answered that I was a graduate student and was studying anthropology. He showed an interest in my topic because I said that it was related to sarariiman. He said, I am the most

suitable person for the topic. You can use me as a guinea pig! After working at a Japanese security company for more than 10 years, he quit the company and started working in an American security company. But he quit again and now worked for a European one. He got this job in Hong Kong, so he can be considered a genchi saiy now. He confessed, I can never go back to a Japanese company! Western companies are free and you can try whatever you want to. He seemed to enjoy his working environment which is not very Japanese so I wondered why he came to this kind of a very Japanese club. After talking about 10 minutes or so he said that there was a place he needed to go (later it turned out that he wanted to go to Moonlight), but he suggested that we have lunch sometime together so that he could tell me more about himself. After that day, we had lunch a couple of times at a poolside caf in the hotel
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where he lived. He lived in a service apartment which belongs to a luxurious hotel because he was tanshin funin and did not need a big apartment. He tried to tell me about his personal things or feelings as much as possible. He was in his mid-fifties, has been married for almost 20 years with two sons. He told me that he had had a longtime Hong Kong Chinese girl friend when he was still an expatriate in Hong Kong. He went back to Japan after spending eight years in Hong Kong but they did not break up completely. They met as lovers again every time he visited Hong Kong on business. He recalled:

She was a hostess at a night club also targeted to Japanese. I frequented that club and asked her out for dinner. After having dinner several times we became intimate naturally. She was chubby and had fair skin she was definitely my type. She also had an atmosphere that made me relaxed. My family was in Hong Kong at that time, so it was really tough to hide everything, but I just thought, Life is short. I wouldnt do that again though. I just do not want to lie to anybody or sacrifice anything.

At the time of this interview, he came to Club J once or twice a week, and also went to Moonlight regularly. He explained:

Which club I go to depends on what I want to talk about. There is a Hong Kong girl I really like at Moonlight. But I think she only understands 70% of what I say. So when I have something that I really want to tell somebody or want someone listen to my story, I go to Club J because I can communicate with the girls perfectly in Japanese. But when I feel like I want to be with
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somebody who I like even though her Japanese is not very good, I go to Moonlight.

He often had dhan dinner with that Hong Kong girl, Jill, and even went on walks with her and her dog on weekends. He said:

I like Jill because she is a good listener (kikijyzu) and she also has a character that makes me relaxed. Men are all amaenb (literally spoiled child) and always want to brag about something. This is why, I guess, men go to hostess clubs like Club J or Moonlight. As far as I am concerned, I would not go to the club if my family was in Hong Kong now. But I just cannot control myself and I just go to the club to have conversations with the girls because I feel lonely. I am not sure whether I want to have a sexual relationship with Jill. Well, let me think about that

The next day, I received an email from Sasaki saying, I analyzed myself. The reason why I go to the club is that I want to meet Jill and feel relaxed. I dont have any expectation to get sexually intimate with her. Sasaki might have said that because he was the type of man who tried to be a gentleman. He always talked to me politely and behaved nicely. I could not tell whether he really did not have sexual desires toward the hostesses at Moonlight or Club J, but I could feel that one of the important reasons why he goes to the clubs is to be listened to. I got the impression that he was quite honest when he said, men want to brag. When he first told me about Jill, he said that she was his girlfriend but did not say that, after I had dinner with Mr. Sasaki, Jill and the other
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hostess girl from Moonlight. Obviously Jill was not his girlfriend because she treated him as one of the customers and they did not seem to be intimate at all. Also the other girl told me that there was no way that Jill and Sasaki are in a relationship. He might not have lied to me intentionally but this shows that he wanted to exaggerate his story to draw the girls attention and to get them interested enough to listen to his stories amusedly.

Takiguchi Takiguchi was one of the regular customers at Club J. With a short mustache, glasses and his round face, he looked like a typical good-tempered middle aged man. He used to work for a very large and famous Japanese trading company but quit to start up his own company. Now he is a jieigy and runs a small company which imports clothes from China and sells them in Japan. He was always traveling around, but he came to Club J whenever he was in Hong Kong. He told me:

I am the only Japanese in my office, so I do not have a chance to talk in Japanese. I am always under a lot of stress. That is why I want to talk to young girls in Japanese at the end of a day.

He always seemed to be happy when he was talking with girls. One day I had a dhan
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dinner with Takiguchi. We met in the lobby of a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, the most famous shopping place among tourists in Kowloon and went to a Russian restaurant. He was also tanshin funin and lived in a service apartment near Causeway Bay. He said:

I love my wife and she is really important to me. It feels most relaxing when I hold her hand and sleep. I want her to be here with me but she does not want to come to Hong Kong and also has to take care of her parents in Japan. I hate to have dinner by myself I feel very lonely. That is why I ask Japanese girls from Club J out for dinner and talk in Japanese. Maybe I am looking for somebody who could be a substitute for my wife.

He sometimes went to the other Karaoke bars that had Hong Kong Chinese hostesses, such as Suzuran, but only when he felt good and was in a party mood. When he felt lonely or depressed, he usually came to Club J to talk. He seemed to be a very easygoing person and nice to everybody but he had strong likes and dislikes about the hostesses at Club J. He liked hostesses who listen to him and respond. He added, It is very important whether they can kaiwa no kyatchi bru (pitch and catch the ball of a conversation). I dont like girls who I have to take care of. Since he had to travel to China very often, he also had chances to go to night clubs there and have sex.

Maybe it is rude to the women, but sex is not my purpose. I just want to be
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with somebodybut it is obvious that their purpose is money for the Chinese girls, not being with me, so I dont do that as often as other Japanese men.

Club J is a perfect place for men like Takiguchi. They are happy to pay a lot of money just to talk with Japanese girls because the conversations with them in Japanese are the most precious thing to such men, it soothes their stress and loneliness.

One day, Mr. Takiguchi came to Club J by himself as usual and requested the manager to send me to his table. Yukari Mama also sat next to me and we started chatting. It seemed that he wanted to tell Yukari something about a girl in the club. He said to her, well, maybe you dont know but some girls here are evil. Yukari asked him, what are you talking about? but he did not answer clearly and just said, you wouldnt believe it, so I am not going to tell you. The Mama-san was very busy because she had to go around all the tables to greet customers, so she had to leave right after this conversation. After Yukari left, I asked him, What happened? and he started talking.

I was so stupid. I liked a girl who used to work here and trusted her but I was wrong. One day, I came here and then went to drink with her after the club was closed. I think I drank too muchI dont remember clearly what happened after I left the club. When I woke up, I was with that girl in my apartment. I think I didnt do anything to her because I know I just cant when I am too
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drunk. But it was really matter how drunk I am, I never become like that. I usually remember everything. Anyway, she left in the morning and several days later, she went back to Japan. Then suddenly, she sent me an email from Japan and said that she was pregnant!!! It cannot be possible. If she wanted money, why didnt she say so? I think she put some drugs in my drink the other night to make me drowsy. Now, she is saying that we slept together and she is pregnant with my baby! I really liked that girl so asked her out and trusted her. I am still in shock and I feel betrayed.

He didnt tell me the name of the girl but I assume that this girl worked there only for a short time and I had not met her. He told me not to tell this story to anybody, but Yoko, one of the chi-mamas told me the same story and said that he tried to tell this to as many girls as possible. He was afraid that this rumor would spread in the club from the standpoint of that girl and everybody would think he was a bad person who got a hostess girl pregnant. He also emphasized that he liked that girl very much. Since he was a regular customer and knew Club J very well, he was too comfortable and did not think that this kind of thing would happen to him. In his case, he trusted that girl as an unprofessional girl just like other hostesses at Club J that he knew, but she just used him for money. Without knowing, he categorized that girl as safe, because she works at Club J and more importantly, because she was Japanese.

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Kimura Kimura was not a customer at Club J but he went to Mama-sans kapp with his clients from time to time. I met him in a language course in Causeway Bay and he took me to Mama-sans kapp after class. He said that he knew the owner of the kapp and she owned a hostess club in Causeway Bay too. At that time, I didnt know the Mama-san of Club J yet, so I was surprised that the owner of the kapp he was talking about turned out to be Club Js Mama-san later. I realized how small the Japanese community in Hong Kong was. Kimura was an expatriate in a Japanese company and had been living in Hong Kong for more than 10 years. He spoke very fluent Mandarin and a little bit of Cantonese. He was married and had two sons, both of whom were still in primary school. He lives with his family but did not have enough time to spend with them because he was too busy with settai and business trips to China. I have settai almost everyday weekday and sometimes even on weekends. I come home very latesometimes in the morning. He loved kankoku karaoke (Korean karaoke club) and did not go to other bars. He did not go to such karaoke clubs by himself but took his colleagues or customers along. I asked him why he especially liked Korean women and he said that Korean women were jy ga fukai (affectionate, warm-hearted) and attentive. In the language class, he often got phone calls from his Korean girlfriend who used to work at a Karaoke club in Causeway Bay. She had already gone back to Korea
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but they were still keeping in touch.

I have lived in Hong Kong for more than 10 years and many things have happened (iroiro atta - meaning he had a lot of affairs). Only my first girlfriend in Hong Kong was Chinese, the others were all Korean. But I was not serious about the relationship with those girls because they were here to work only for a couple of months and had to go back to Korea. I just enjoyed the relationship for a short time. At that time, the relationship consisted only 20% of maeum (Korean word that means heart) and the remaining 80% was sex. But this time, it is opposite. This is the first time that I feel strong feelings. Now, I can say 80% is maeum.

I asked him, what is the difference between her and your ex-girlfriends? and he said:

Well, maybe she is very smart, that is why. She can talk about many things and we can enjoy conversation. When I got married, I decided that I would not open up to my wife and reveal only 30% of myself in my family life. But I think I can obviously share with my girlfriend more than that.

I wondered if his wife ever found out that he was having an affair or at least complained because he was rarely home and did not take good care of their children.

Amazingly, shes never complained (laughs)!! But she is not the type who can have an affairso I am not worried about that. Maybe she just gave up because I have always been like this and will never change. Like Takiguchi, Kimura went to China several times a week on business and often had a chance to go to night clubs there. He also did not like buying sex only for one night
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so if he had to go back to his hotel with a girl because it was a settai occasion and his clients offered him the opportunity, he gave money to that girl and let her go. Even if it was only 20%, he said that he always needed maeum to have sex. And for him, to have more percentage of maeum, the girl has to be smart and language skills are important too. His Korean girlfriend speaks almost perfect Japanese and he is trying to learn Korean to understand her more. The smooth communication and meaningful conversation lacking in his marriage or in his past relationships with the Korean girlfriends make him enjoy more than just a giji renai now.

Tsukamoto I met Mr. Tsukamoto on a Saturday night at Club J. I did my fieldwork only on Tuesdays and Fridays, but I was asked to come to help on that day because some girls quit at the same time and they were short-staffed. Mr. Tsukamoto came to the club with Sayaka after the dhan dinner. I was told by the waitress to go to his counter after Sayaka had gone to another table. On Saturdays, the manager who normally gave instructions to the hostesses as to which table or counter to go took a day off, so the waitress filled in for him. Mr. Tsukamoto was 42 years old but looked younger and was clean and fresh looking. He came to Hong Kong six months ago and was in charge of accounting at a Japanese electric company. He is tanshin funin and his wife, 13 year old
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daughter and 15 year old son were all in Japan. This was the first time for him to live apart from his family.

I am so lonely here without my children. Its a pity that I cannot see my children grow. I bought a PC for my son so that he can send emails to me, but he just uses it to write emails to his friends! He sometimes writes to me, but his emails are very short. One day, my son had three baseball games and I asked him about the results. In his email, he just said, Won, lost, won. Just three words!! I was really disappointed.

It seemed like he did not get used to being alone yet. He wanted to talk about his children and also how lonely and miserable he felt. He goes on:

Today, I went to UNY (Japanese supermarket near his apartment). I saw many Japanese families there and just looking at them made me very miserable. I also felt embarrassed to buy food just for myself. They know that I am a lonely and sad tanshin funin man, right? They buy a lot of stuff and I only have cooked food and some tea in my shopping basket. I hate shopping at UNY on weekends!

He lived in Tai Koo Shin where many Japanese people live. His apartment was just above UNY so it was very convenient for him to get some food there, but he felt very uncomfortable and lonely to be there by himself. That was partly why, he had dinner with Sayaka on that night and then came to Club J afterwards. I could not stay at his counter for a very long time because I had to move to another table. He
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stayed in the club almost for four hours and went home. I learned that there were many tanshin funin men in the club on Saturdays and they tended to stay longer in the club. They can stay up late on Saturdays but do not have much to do at home and do not want to be alone, therefore they come to Club J and talk and drink until they get drunk enough to go to sleep soon after they get home.

Three weeks later, I had to help the club again and met him there. He was with two of his colleagues and was quite drunk by the time I went to their table. He remembered me and kept asking when I was going back to Japan and he was telling his colleagues that he liked me. I was surprised because he did not show that when he came to the club before. Both of his colleagues are tanshin funin too and they said that they had dinner very often. One of them said:

We are like members of the tanshin funin club! We all feel lonely and miss our family in Japan so much so we just get together and have dinner sometimes three or four days in a row!

Some tanshin funin men say that it is nice to be alone for a while, not being bothered by their kids or wives. But Tsukamoto and his colleagues were new in Hong Kong and they all miss their family in Japan, especially their children. On
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that day, Mr. Tsukamoto asked me for my email address, so I gave it to him. Later, he sent me an email saying, Thank you for the other night. But, in fact, I dont remember everything because I was too drunk. So I asked him if I could interview him sometime. He agreed and we set up the date.

I met him again in a nice Japanese restaurant. In my email, I said that I wanted to interview him but I did not bring it up during the dinner because I did not want to ruin the conversation in a relaxed and free atmosphere. I asked him how he found Club J. He said that his colleagues told him about the club. He said, Actually, I dont like to go there by myself. Its not fun. So I asked him, but last time, you went there alone, didnt you? He explained that he went to the club because he had dhan with Sayaka. For him, having dinner with somebody is more important than going to the club itself. He asked Sayaka whether it is okay not to go to Club J after dinner but Sayaka never allowed that of course for the hostesses, having dinner is just a part of their job and it is not complete until they bring the customers to the club. He told me that he used to have dhan with Tomoko, but felt guilty for Tomoko when Sayaka asked him out and had dinner with her. I said, It is no problem in Club J. Some customers go have dhan with different girls every week. He was obviously not familiar with the system of Club
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J. I asked, Have you ever been to any hostess clubs in Japan? and he answered:

Never! I lived far away from Tokyo. I commuted from Ibaraki Prefecture by shinkansen and it took me two hours, one way. The last train to go home was 10:40 pm, so I just could not go out for drinking that often. Also my financial situation is different here too. I still get about 80% of my former salary in Japan and I get a salary here in addition. I can afford to go to the clubs now.

Three factors, his money situation, family situation and also the convenient location changed his life style. I asked him whether he went to China on business and he said he did quite often. Then I asked him, Do you go to the Karaoke clubs there and bring a girl out sometimes? He didnt say either yes or no but just said:

Well, because this is something very characteristic of China (okunigara dakara.) Girls in Dongguan are not so pretty and most of them dont speak Japanese but in Dalian.they are really beautiful! Have you ever been to a night club in Macau? That was great too!! The beautiful girls come to you and ask you to take her out! It is understandable that men get the wrong idea that they are popular.

His answer showed that he went to the clubs once in a while in China and Macau. He mentioned that this was something very characteristic of China, to buy beautiful girls in China to make an excuse for his behavior. It also showed that he enjoyed this only when he is here as an expatriate being in a foreign environment.
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During the dinner, he mentioned many times that he loved his wife so much and how lucky he was to have married her. On the other hand, he kept saying that we should have dinner together sometime on a weekend to explore new restaurants. He insisted that his main concern was to have dinner with somebody on weekends, not always with his tanshin funin friends or colleagues. He seemed to be a good husband and father and he said that he had never cheated on his wife. However, he appeared to realize that his value of money was changing since he came to Hong Kong. When he was talking about his salary, he said:

When I went back to Japan for holiday, I bought very expensive golf balls and my wife complained about that. I had never bought such expensive golf balls before. I can go to expensive restaurants in Hong Kong, take a taxi anytime and enjoy golf as often as I want to because I can afford that. My sense of money value is changing and it is kind of scary. Also, I have never cheated on my wife and didnt go drinking to have fun with women in Japan, but I know once a man like me falls in love, it might get really serious. My wife is saying the same thing. I have to be careful.

While I was working at Club J, I heard that some of the customers and also the Mama-san told me stories about the Japanese expatriates who lost themselves in the situation (they suddenly became rich and single in Hong Kong), something that they never experienced before. I felt that Mr. Tsukamoto has a potential to change his value of money completely in Hong Kong because of his environment and also
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his loneliness.


The reasons for men to go to the hostess clubs in Hong Kong are various. However, there are some reasons which most of the customers have in common they want to talk and be listened to and they feel relaxed and iyasareru (healed) by that. They seek something that is missing in their life.

Sasaki comes to Club J when he has something he really wants to talk about although there is a girl who he really liked in another club. Takiguchi misses his wife a lot. He tends to have dinner with the girls in the same small and cozy Japanese restaurant and then comes to Club J. In the club he wants to hold the hand of his favorite girl which he cannot do with his wife right now. Kimura does not open up with his wife and the communication is not good although his family is in Hong Kong. That might make him seek a relationship in which he can talk and share more with his girlfriend. Tsukamoto does not want to have dinner by himself or with his colleagues all the time. That is why he asks the girls for dinner and is forced to come to the club after that.
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These men are lonely in Hong Kong regardless of their family situation or social status. Most of the jieigy men have lived in Hong Kong for a long time. However, it does not seem that they have local friends. They usually have factories or customers in China and travel around, so they do not have enough time to hang out with their friends. One of the hostesses at Club J told me that jieigy men treat the girls most nicely compared to sarariiman (expats and genchi saiy). They feel isolated being owners of their own companies because they do not socialize with their staff and they also cannot talk freely with other Japanese men who run companies in Hong Kong because they have many competitors and the Japanese community in Hong Kong is small. So, the jieigy men try to help the girls and treat them nicely because they think that the girls try hard in a foreign country, which they could relate to themselves and also, they can afford to do this as company owners who usually earn more than sarariiman do.

If I compare the tanshin funin men and the men who live with their families, the loneliness of tanshin funin is more obvious. They tend to stay in the club longer and want to have dinner with the girls more often. There are more tanshin funin men who come to the club alone. Especially on Saturdays, most of the customers are tanshin funin who do not want to spend Saturday nights by
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themselves. The loneliness of the men who are with their families in Hong Kong cannot be seen from the outside, but they also feel other kinds of loneliness. The wives are busy with their children and the communication with their wives is sometimes perfunctory. They simply become breadwinners or husbands or fathers and they have to be strong at home. Therefore, they seek some consolation or iyashi outside. They feel isolated and sometimes stressed out at home and want to release their stress in a hostess club where girls listen to them. Men need a place to let their guard down.

The informants I described in the case studies, except for Tsukamoto who is still new in Hong Kong, have had some kind of relationship with hostesses. For the customers who visit a club targeted to Japanese men in Hong Kong for the first time, the girls who work there are supposed to be hostess girls or mizu shbai girls that do not have a positive image in Japan. However, after visiting the club several times, or maybe after a few hours, they found a girl they like, and they want to push the girl into a different category from a hostesss. This could happen in the hostess clubs in Japan too. However, in Hong Kong, this process was accelerated by some factors. The hostess girls become special because they are Japanese in a foreign environment and can communicate in Japanese. When the
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customers know that they are in Hong Kong for a short time and are doing this job as a part-timer and they cannot provide perfect service, the hostesses become ordinary girls. The Chi-mama, Yoko told me:

Many customers who approach me often say, I believe that the you I see in the club working as a hostess is not the real you or I like you, but not as a hostess. They are just saying it for themselves, not to make me feel good.

Like Yoko said, they say it to justify themselves. Sometimes the hostesses become their friends first with whom they can have dinner and then they try to get closer with the hostesses. Although they just have a dhan dinner, they feel happy because they have company for the dinner and so going to the club after that is not the main purpose for them. After they moved the hostesses into a different category, it is much more comfortable to establish the relationship with the hostess girls. They are not hostesses anymore, at least at the conceptual level of men they are ordinary girls who happen to be in mizu shbai temporarily.

Like Takiguchi and Kimura, there were some men who said that they do not like to go to prostitution because there are no feelings there and they feel empty after they paid for having sex. Instead, they want to enjoy the process more. At the
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hostess club like Club J, they can do that. The place is supposed to be a non-sexual place, but men sometime want to have sexual conversations and approach the girls hoping that they could be intimate with the girls. Some of the customers actually said, The customers here say that they just drink and talk with the hostesses, but they all wish to have sex with them at some point. I was also asked by some customers whether I was interested in a sexual relationship with them, only after talking several times with them in the club. It seems to me that they try to get close to the girls first and enjoy this process. They do not know whether they will successfully achieve their goal, but like the ambiguity of the process that may or may not lead to their goal. The Japanese hostess clubs might seem strange because the customers pay a lot of money only to drink and chat with the girls, but enjoying this sexual ambiguity is already erotic for them and some of them feel satisfaction from that. The fact that regular customers at Club J repeat the same process each time as they keep coming to talk to new girls despite their failed attempts proves my assumption.

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Chapter 6 Conclusion

The Japanese style hostess club that I have described in this thesis functions as a nexus for the fusing of several different experiences of social life. A wide variety of different individuals with disparate personal histories and current experiences were represented at the bar the owner, the customers and the hostesses. Unlike previous studies on Japanese sarariiman or expatriates (Allison 1994, Ben-Ari 2000), I have focused mainly on those leisure activities in which they participated by their own volition and at their own expense. By focusing on the way they choose to spend their free time I was able to gain an understanding of their central motivations for going to hostess clubs in Hong Kong and what they are ultimately seeking.

Loneliness and escape from reality As I showed in Chapter 3, the reasons why these Japanese men spend time in the hostess club at their own expense are various. Some men want to brag, others just want a sympathetic ear. The men who like to talk to the hostesses about their past relationships try to impress the girls by showing that they attracted many girls before. They try to show how they are physically and also financially attractive as a
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man to confirm their masculinity and also to draw girls attention because women are always curious about mens behavior and psychology. Also some men want to have dhan because they do not want to have dinner alone and so come to the club to meet the girls. However, there is an underlying motivation that most of the customers share loneliness. Regardless of whether they are tanshin funin or not, they feel lonely and want to be listened to by somebody who just sits and nods and does not judge them.

The customers of Club J do not complain when the hostesses forget to light their cigarettes because the customers like this amateurishness, but feel uncomfortable and sometimes get angry when the hostesses obviously show that they are bored or keep talking about themselves. The customers want to have the full attention of the hostesses. The customers also like to hear the reactions of the hostess girls; for example, Mr. Miyamoto in Chapter 3 is satisfied with the hostesses oh, really? even though he knows they are not listening.

The tanshin funin men are alone at home, so it comes as no surprise that their loneliness translates into a desire to speak with someone. More remarkably, many men who live with their families also develop a sense of loneliness even
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though they are not alone at home. I met some men like Mr. Kimura, described in Chapter 5, who did not open up to their wives but felt more comfortable and intimate with his girlfriend whom he met at a Karaoke bar. On this point, I agree with Allison when she writes, home is not the space where they can or want to relax (Allison 1994, 36-37).

As I explained in chapter 1, women monopolize management of the home ( Iwao, 1993: 81) and are constantly busy with housework and raising children in most of the households in Japan. Wives of the expatriates in Hong Kong could not take up employment and so they were often in the position of staying at home to take care of children and other housework while enjoying language study or morning dim sum and conversation with friends who are in the same situation. They keep themselves busy and can release their stress by doing those activities.

On the other hand, my male informants who live with their families say, I cannot be relaxed and healed at home (uchi dewa iyasarenai). They need to find some place to be themselves neither as father nor husband. The men want to brag because they believe that this will show that they are strong and attractive as a man, however they also want a place where they can show their weak side and let
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their guard down. These Japanese men seem to want to display amae (dependence, presuming upon) and be mothered by women, in contrast with their Western counterparts (Henshall 1999, 33). When they feel like their weak side is

accepted by women, and this pseudo-mother-and-son relationship is constructed, they finally feel healed. This pseudo-maternal role might not be played by their wives because the men feel pressure to be strong as the breadwinner, husband or father at home. Therefore, the hostess clubs are the ideal place for Japanese men such as these to be relaxed and healed.

Franks research on strip clubs in America (2003) shows, although the nature of the places and the motivations of the customers are different, some similarities exist between the regular customers of the strip clubs and those of Club J. For example, the customers of the strip clubs seek a place where they can be relaxed and that is neither work nor home. Compared to the Japanese men who have to be fathers and husbands, and therefore strong at home, American men are confused at home because their wives expect them to be strong and sensitive at the same time. However, at the strip clubs, they can enjoy masculine activities such as drinking, smoking cigars, and even being rowdy, vulgar and aggressive (2002: 65) without feeling any obligation, pressure or entanglement. On this point,
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strip clubs also have a function as a haven from home and real relationships. However, since the American men receive a great deal of enjoyment from their families, they do not want to change the structure of their private lives (2006: 66). Therefore, strippers just stay as strippers and the customers do not try to build a real relationship. The customers just enjoy watching naked women and talking to them while drinking and some of them fantasize the possibility of an outside relationship but they would not risk their private lives. They try to enjoy a temporal encounter in the strip clubs. On the other hand, Japanese men who go to the hostess clubs need not only the haven but expect to be mentally healed by the girls, which often leads to a more intimate relationship, not just as a customer and a hostess. This fact also shows that the motivations of Japanese men who patronize hostess clubs are greatly influenced by their family and marriage life.

Seeking Japaneseness Quite a number of my male informants told me that they wanted to talk with the girls in Japanese because they had to speak English or Chinese at work. Although some of them speak very fluent English, they need a break from speaking a foreign language and they want to convey subtle nuances in Japanese in their conversations with the hostesses. Therefore, it is quite obvious that one of the main
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attractions of Club J is that it has only girls who speak perfect Japanese with one exception, Lucy. However, the story of Lucy in the fourth chapter tells us that merely speaking the same language with the girls at Club J is not enough for some customers. Lucys Japanese ability in that kind of drinking situation is sufficient, but she has never been to Japan and her behavior is not what Japanese customers expect from Japanese girls. She is very direct and gets bored easily, making it impossible to meet the needs of customers who seek healing (iyashi) and hi-nichij at the club. Most customers talk to Hong Kong girls at work, so talking to Lucy seems to be a daily thing nichij for them. The customers miss something Japanese and try to find it with the Japanese hostess girls. Something Japanese could be a common topic of their hometown, food, or complaints about Hong Kong that Japanese people often share. I heard one of the customers in his fifties say, I cannot have any sexual image of these Japanese girls here because I feel like I am talking to the neighborhood girl or something! He was trying to say that he felt something natsukashii (nostalgic) with the Japanese hostesses. Mr. Takiguchi, one of the informants described in Chapter 5, trusted a girl because he thought she was safe and would never betrayed him because she was Japanese. He said that he was very cautious in China not to be cheated by a girl whom he took out from a Karaoke bar because he believes that Chinese bar hostesses only want
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money from their Japanese customers.

Not unlike the case of the Japanese expatriates in Singapore that Ben-Ari examined, Japanese men in Hong Kong seek ties with other Japanese and try to confirm their national identity and the cultural assumptions and practices that they share. Rather than adapting to the customs and practices of local cultures, Japanese abroad have a tendency to enhance their Japaneseness. In Hong Kong too, the phenomenon of going national can often been seen although the Japanese men in Hong Kong are supposed to be international (Ben-Ari 2000:173).

Asobi Play for Japanese Throughout the interviews with my male informants, I realized that many of these men use the word iyashi (healing) when they explain the reason they go to the hostess clubs and I came to understand that this word has a special meaning to them. They said, I need iyashi, so I go to the hostess club.

This word iyashi won a prize in the Japanese buzzwords contest in 1999 and has been widely used in the years since. In CD shops, one can find many CDs of iyashi music and there are various types of iyashi onsen tours in travel brochures.
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Iyashi-kei jyoy (iyashi-type actresses) have become a new standard to portray romantic characters and are very popular among men and women. Iyashi can be translated as healing but according to Ueda, the meaning of iyashi overlaps with the meaning of chiry (medical treatment), however it has a different implication too and [the aim of] chiry is the recovery of the damaged part of the body but iyashi has an effect on the existence itself. Therefore iyashi is not about the function of the body but ones existence and the fact that one is satisfied with it is most important (Ueda 1997: 12).

In the first chapter, I referred to Amanumas analysis to show that there is no opposite word for ganbaru because having a lot of time and not working do not have positive value in Japan. At the time when Amanumas book was written, iyashi only had the original meaning, but in subsequent years Japanese people have created a new meaning for this word and have been using it as an opposite word for ganbaru. Because of the original meaning of this word, it does not have a negative connotation. Japanese people feel that iyashi is something they can have as a reward for working hard. Therefore, I believe that Japanese men use this word to make an excuse to play so they do not need to feel guilty about playing. The Japanese mentality that praises hard work and attaches guilt to play lays
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behind the boom of the word iyashi.

Tada points out that Japanese people are considered to be bad at playing because Japanese play is too closely-attached to reality and nichij. Even pachinko one of the most popular forms of play in Japan is like a miniaturized factory and had been a way for Japanese to adapt themselves to the rapidly growing industrial society (Tada 1980: 41-43). Play originally should be extraordinary, but if it is too far away from daily life, Japanese people tend to feel guilty. On this point, the quality of extraordinariness (hi-nichij-sei) of Club J which is remembered by these men as the nichij of Japan makes the men in Hong Kong relieved and attracts them with a positive value.

Club J as an Ambiguous Space In chapter 2, I introduced the variety of the hostess clubs and the night clubs in Hong Kong targeting Japanese customers. Besides Japanese style hostess clubs, other popular spots include Philippine clubs and Korean clubs and, of course, there are Chinese clubs too. They all have different atmospheres and the purposes of the customers are diverse as well. It also depends on the personal preference of a given customer. For example, Philippine clubs have a party atmosphere and Korean
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clubs have compassionate girls and men that want to be healed there. Because these clubs have an exotic atmosphere and also the girls do not completely understand what the Japanese customers say, these places seem to be perfect for experiencing giji renai which cannot be real romance.

This giji renai is a keyword and main attraction for the hostess clubs and kyabakura in Japan (Yamamoto 1999:64) too because the hostesses have the skill to make the customers enjoy giji renai (Kawabata 2003: 39-40). This giji renai represents the ambiguity of mizu shbai because men can enjoy flirtation that usually cannot lead to real romance. However, most of the hostesses of Club J do not have the skills of giji renai. Sayaka looks like a professional hostess and tries to use her skills, but many of the customers do not fall for it and do not enjoy the superficial service.

As shown in Chapter 4, the hostess girls, with the exception of Sayaka, also do not identify themselves as professional hostesses because they came to Hong Kong for other purposes such as sightseeing, looking for a daytime job or seeing their boyfriends. In addition to the hostesses reasons for coming to Hong Kong, their working conditions make them relaxed about working at Club J.
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Considering what the average hostess makes in Japan, the wages in Hong Kong are far too low for money to be the only motivating factor acting on these women.

Because the amateur girls work as hostesses in a foreign country, they feel lonely and sometimes helpless too. Working at night or talking to strangers every night can be stressful for some girls because they have no such previous experience. Besides loneliness and stress, they develop a distrust of men that hostesses in Japan also tend to have, as Kawabata points out (Kawabata 2003, 41). They think that all men are like their customers who brag about their love affairs and try to make sexual advances towards them regardless of their marital status. Under theses circumstances, the hostess girls of Club J subconsciously want somebody who they can rely on and are inclined to fall in love with the customers when they find somebody among the customers who seems to be sincere and genuine.

Since the customers of Club J want to be healed and consoled (iyasaretai) and want to speak in Japanese there, the girls do not have to be professional hostesses who constantly wipe customers glasses, light their cigarettes and hand them hot towels as soon as they came back from the restroom.
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The customers of Club J do not expect the hostesses to provide them such services. The hostesses can be relaxed and behave naturally, which makes the men believe that the hostesses are also having a good time with them. The hostesses often tell the customers casually what they think, not just saying pleasant things for the customers to hear. The customers do not get offended seriously as long as they are being listened to and hearing reactions from the hostesses. The hostesses at Club J do not have a uniform and they can choose their clothing by themselves. The hostesses sometimes get drunk like ordinary girls whom men might meet at a gokon party.

The girls are doing hostessing work, but are similar to ordinary girls because of their amateurishness. The girls are in an ambiguous position that cannot be categorized as either hostesses or ordinary girls. The customers enjoy drinking and talking with these Japanese hostesses whose status is ambiguous and are willing to pay quite a large amount of money for it. Since the community of Japanese in Hong Kong is quite small and also the regular customers of Club J know each other, many of them know that some girls actually have a relationship with the customers. The ambiguous position of the girls, and the knowledge that they also might have a chance of developing a relationship, reinforce the idea of
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the customers that they could be intimate with a girl sometime.

Not only is the position of the girls ambiguous, but also Club J itself is an ambiguous place that offers something ordinary (nichij) in a space that is supposed to be extraordinary (hi-nichij). As Yukari-mama explains, hostess clubs in Japan are considered to be hi-nichij where men can enjoy sophisticated service in a luxurious atmosphere. Ichinosawa also describes the go-go bars in Bangkok as hi-nichij places with special lights, loud music, alcohol, unique dresses and heavy make up of dancers etc. and says that this extraordinariness spiced up the mood in the go-go bars (2003: 228). However, for Japanese men in Hong Kong, something that used to be nichij such as talking to ordinary Japanese girls becomes hi-nichij in Hong Kong. Club J is an ambiguous place that is located between nichij and hi-nichij. Yukari-mama commoditizes this ambiguity knowing what men seek in Hong Kong.

Category Shift of the Girls On the customers side, there were some men who became personally attached to a particular hostess and they often wished the girl to be their girlfriend. Because of the ambiguity of the girls, they tend to have a hope that the possibility
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is quite high. A fairly robust pattern exists where they try to convince themselves that the girl of their interest is not a hostess girl but just an ordinary girl when they approach her. They say to the girl of their interest, I respect you as a person. You, being a hostess is not the real you when they see the girl in person. They also try to take the girl for dinner or lunch on Sunday, not for dhan. By doing this, the men transfer the girl to an in-between and ambiguous position from which the girl can be promoted to their girlfriend. This process of the shift of conceptual category takes place relatively easily in Club J because of factors such as the amateurishness of the girls and the loneliness that both the girls and the men feel in a foreign country and also the nichijness that Club J has. To enjoy this ambiguous position of the girls, they continue to go to the hostess club until they complete the shift of category.

Sexuality of Japanese Men and a Hostess Club As I also argued in Chapter 3, not all the customers come to the club to merely find something emotionally intimate, mental or spiritual. Some customers do hope to become sexually intimate with the hostesses, but they want to get to know the girl first and then develop the relationship. One of the customers I met on the first night of my fieldwork sent me e-mail after that night and asked me out. He
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insisted that he would have dinner with me only when I did not need to go to work, saying that he hated dhan. He brought me to a very fancy and expensive Italian restaurant and talked about his private matters such as how he met his wife or how he named his sons etc. After dinner, he insisted on coming to my place, but I refused. From that time on, he never called me and tried to avoid me when we met in the club. His purpose was quite obvious, but he wanted to flirt first through e-mails and then have a date with me. For some Japanese men, going to a hostess club is something sexual yet not directly for them this is one way of enjoying the process of realizing their sexual desire.

Here I would like to stress that sexuality and methods of expressing desire are culturally determined. According to Freud, sexual desire is primary and Eros is the motivating factor that makes the whole psychic machinery work (Freud 1949). However, the same human motives appear in different cultural forms, and different motives appear in the same forms (Sahlins 1977, 11) and there can be no behavior without biology; but no less significantly, the behaviors of interest require a cultural milieu to give them meaning, much as a seed requires fertile soil to express its genetic potential (Abramson and Pinkerton 1995, 5). It is our biological character that human beings have sexual desire which we try to fulfill,
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but we do not express it in the same pattern. The fzoku business developed in Japan as well as mizu shbai. I asked some non-Japanese men whether they would go to an expensive hostess club where they can drink and talk with girls from their own country but they said, Without sex? No way or they just do not understand why Japanese men want to talk to Japanese girls instead of enjoying something different or exotic while they live in a foreign country.

The existence and success of mizu shbai along side an equally successful and well developed fzoku business shows that Japanese men are not satisfied with just having sexual intercourse.

Club Js function and meaning for Japanese men in Hong Kong It can be said that the Mama-sans strategy to commoditize hi-nichij for Japanese men in Hong Kong is successful and it functions well with the attributes that the amateur hostesses possess. The men seek something they used to have but that is not available here in Hong Kong talking to ordinary girls, taking girls from their offices out for lunch or drinks, enjoying conversation in Japanese and an atmosphere that reminds them of Japan. Club J is a very ambiguous place that offers nichij in a space (a hostess club) that is supposed to be hi-nichij.
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Throughout this paper, I have argued how ambiguity appeals to Japanese men by means of describing a hostess club for Japanese men in Hong Kong and interactions of the customers, hostesses and the owner. My research implies that ambiguity is something attractive, not something to be avoided. The Japanese men who patronize the hostess club seem to be enjoying the ambiguity that the club offers and also the ambiguous status of the girls. My male informants enjoy the process of detaching the girls from their first position (hostesses) and putting them into a new category. Japanese men sometimes even find this ambiguity exciting or stimulating.

When observing the hostess club as a place where Japanese men spend their time at their own expense and also as part of Japanese culture transplanted in a different context, the meaning of the hostess club can be seen more clearly. It is not just for confirming their masculinity; they seek ambiguity and hi-nichij which depends greatly on the context and is determined by the cultural apparatus in this case.

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Appendix One: Profile of the hostess girls at Club J

Name Age Hometown Education

May 2004 July 2004

Previous Job Reason to come to Hong Kong

Yoko Sayaka

31 34

Saitama Osaka

2-year college 4-year university

Office worker Office worker /

Ex-boyfriend Scouted Mama-san Boyfriend To find a job as a hairdresser Hong resident Kong by

Part-time hostess Tomoko Kanako Lucy (HK girl) Miki Masami 36 38 Okinawa Miyagi University College Self-owned business Travel agency 20 22 21 Saitama Osaka Hong Kong 2-year college Quit high school High school Student Hairdresser Office worker

To find a chance for business To find a job in China (had a boyfriend too?)




University Beijing


Office worker

To find a job in China work) (office




High school

Worked in a hotel in China

To find a job in China work) (office

Yumiko (part-time hostess) Ruri Kaori







language course in HK (Cantonese) 22 26 Shiga Tokyo University Korean Tokyo school in Student Worked at another hostess club while studying therapy aroma N/A Holiday N/A






Office worker

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Appendix Two: Details of the Male Interviewees Name Miyamoto Age 43 Status Expatriate (Manufacturing company) Family Wife and 3 children in Japan Comments It appears that he had a girlfriend in China and likes to have fun with girls. Comes to Club J to talk to girls in Japanese and wants to be listened to. Talks a lot. Kanda 42 Locally (American manufacturing company) Fujita 33 Expatriate (Construction company) Wife and 2 children in Japan hired Wife and child in Hong Kong Lives with his family but his wife is working too. Comes to Club J by himself and likes to talk to new girls. Has not gotten along with his wife for a long time. Has a girlfriend in Japan and had relationships (sometimes only for Sasaki 53 Locally company) hired Wife and 2 children in Japan one night) with some Philippine hostesses. Had a relationship with a HK hostess for a long time. Asks me for lunch at a hotel where he lives from time to time. Goes to both Club J and Moonlight. Takagi 39 Expatriate (Trading company) Single Likes fashionable and trendy places. Enjoys single life in HK. Has a lot of foreign and Japanese friends but comes to Club J by himself. Takiguchi 59 Owns a company Wife and child in Japan Spends the most part of each week in China and comes to Club J when he is in HK. Wants to spend time with hostesses because he misses his wife. Kimura 43 Expatriate (Chemical company) - 161 Wife and 2 children in HK Likes to go to Korean karaoke clubs and has a Korean girl friend. Goes home very late (European security

every night and does not talk to his wife very much. Tsukamoto 42 Expatriate (Manufacturing company) Sato 43 Expatriate (Trading company) Wife and 2 children in Japan Wife and 2 children in Japan Just came to HK and feels lonely. Does not want to have dinner by himself so asks girls out for dinner. His wife and children went back to Japan. Has a long-time girlfriend in Japan and lives separately from his family for her. Proud of his job and wants to talk about that in the club or during the interview too. Nogi 42 Expatriate (Trading company) Uno 50 Expatriate (Manufacturing company) Wife and 2 children in HK Wife and 2 children in Japan Divorced once. Seems to be the playboy type. Had several affairs with housewives. International and sophisticated type. Came to Club J right after he came to HK several times but stopped coming. Wants to have intellectual discussions. Shimada 42 Locally hired Wife and 2 children in HK I met him through one of my HK friends. He did not know any hostess clubs for Japanese in HK so I told him about Club J. Visited me there a few times. (European bank)

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Staff Room



S-Shaped counter (for 9 customers)

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3 Table 4
Table 5

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Going to have a meal with hostesses after the club is closed Amae Amaenb Arigat gozaimasu Asobi Bitai Okunigara Chi-mama Dependence, presuming upon Spoiled child Thank you very much.

Play Coquetry

Something characteristic of a country Small mama, a top hostess who is directly under mama-san

Chzaiin Daigakuinsei de hitozuma Dhan him in Dhan Shukkin Fumajime Futsno ko Fzoku Gaijin

Expatriates She is a grad student and married Having dinner with a customer and bringing

Go to work after having dinner with a customer Act frivolously Ordinary girls Sex joints Foreigners
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Ganbari Genchi saiy Genjimei Giji Renai Gkon Goyukkuri Hajimemashite

Work hard, tenacity, persistency Locally hired Names that hostesses use for work Love under false pretense A small party to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend Relax and have a nice time. Nice to meet you.

Hajimete desunode omeishi itadakemauska?

Since this is your first visit, could you give me your card? Hame o hazusu Hima Hi-nichij Go over the line Have much free time

Exceptional times, something far distant from daily life Hi-nichijsei Hitozuma Hosutesu rashisa Irasshaimase Iroiro atta Iruiru! Hi-nichijness Somebodys wife

Hostessness Welcome

Many things happened. Yes, there are!

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Iyasareru Iyasaretai Iyashi Jieigy J ga fukai Joky K-kei Kaiwa no catch ball conversation Kansai-ben Kappo

Being healed/ consoled Want to be healed/ consoled Healing, cure Self-employed, dependent business Compassionate Caf waitresses in the Taish era Korean clubs Pitch and catch the ball of a

Kansai dialect Japanese style small restaurants

Kayui tokoro ni tega todoku dake dewa naku, kayui tokoro o sagashi dasanakereba ikemasen It is not enough to scratch them where they itchy, but you have to try to find out where they itchy. Kaisha ningen Kankoku karaoke Kashi zashiki Kiki jyzu Ki no tsuyoi Corporate person Korean karaoke club Brothels in the Edo era Good listener Assertive

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Konbanwa Kshi Kshi kong Mata kitene Maeum(Korean) Mizu chaya era Mizu shbai clubs Mizuwari Moterukoto

Good evening. Private and public Mixing up ones private and public life Please come again. Heart Literally, water teahouse, tea house in the Edo

Literally, water business, usually hostess

opposite sex

Whiskey and water Being popular usually among people of

Natsukashii Nichij Obasan Ochazuke Ohay gozaimasu Okkake OL Oshare

Nostalgic Daily life Older woman Rice and hot tea poured on it Good morning

Star groupies Female office worker Fashionable and sophisticated

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Hot hand towels Good job. Good night. Philippine clubs Leisure An atmosphere of love, romance Relax Feeling lonely/ Something is missing

Otsukaresama deshita Oyasuminasai P-kei Rej Renai Rirakkusu Sabishii Saikin isogashii desuka? Sakariba ` Sarariiman Saynara Seiaiteki yokky Seiteki manzoku Seiteki yokky Sekkyaku Settai Settaihi Shimei P

Are you busy recently? An amusement quarter Salaried man, male white-collar employee Good bye Erotic and romantic drive Sexual gratification Sexual drive Service Entertaining clients or colleagues Entertainment cost Requesting the company of a specific hostess
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Shirto onna Shish

Amateur girls Unlicensed brothels Excuse me. Summer greeting cards Paper screen Oh, really? Is that so?

Shitsurei shimasu Shoch mimai Shji Snandesuka? Sunao Surete nai Tabi no haji wa kakisute

Accepting and honest Girls who do not much about the world or men

A man away from home need feel no shame/ Once over the borders, one many do anything Takoyaki Tennen boke Toranomaki Tsukemono Tsukiai Uchi dewa iyasarenai Yamato nadeshiko Yoroshiku onegaishimasu Nice to meet you. Octopus dumpling Say funny things naturally Manual/instruction Japanese pickles Socializing with colleagues I cannot be healed at home.

Traditional modest Japanese women

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Yoka Yukata Zzshii

Time to spare Summer kimono Presumptuous

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