Only In Japan

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Entertainers

The place where I live and work, Shinsaibashi, is really great. Smack in the centre of the city, it is one of the best places in Osaka for shopping, eating out, having a drink, clubbing, and... Some other forms of entertainment too. Namely, host and hostess clubs by the dozen.

Now most foreigners think of hostesses as prostitutes, but that is a mistake. Since ancient times, the sex industry and the entertainment industry have been quite clearly separated in Japan. While prostitution has always been flourishing, it generally does not appeal to the same people who want to meet hosts, hostesses and geisha. Broadly speaking, hosts and hostesses work in clubs where they entertain members of the opposite sex, listen to their stories, make them drink and relax, and try to make them want to come back. Creating a strong personal relationship with a customer is financially rewarding, as a big part of the hosts and hostesses' salary comes from the bonus they get if they are succesful and popular. Close relationships with customers also open the door to invitations to the restaurant, lavish presents, and in general after some time suggestions to take things one level higher. It is a tight rope to walk for the entertainer who wants to get presents and money while protecting his or her private life, but there lies the true skill.

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