Your Japan Bucket List: Host and Hostess Clubs

In a previous article I talked about maid cafés, well host/hostess clubs are very similar. These clubs are geared more towards adults, serving a wide variety of alcohol and providing more mature company. The workers at these clubs are like modern day Geisha, providing entertainment for their customers through games, karaoke, drinking or just talking. However, there is a darker side to these clubs that I will also discuss in this article.
What's the Point?
Host and hostess clubs are bars are targeted towards people who are very stressed during their daily lives. People who work all the time in Japan often don't have time for romantic relationships, but going to a host/hostess club provides that sense of emotional connection. These people aren't prostitutes, or strippers, they simply provide a good atmosphere.
Menus - But Not What You Think
When you enter a host club you will presented with a menu...of people. Customers get to pick the host they would like to meet first, although throughout the night you will probably meet almost all of them. The host you pick will be the one to visit your table throughout the night as soon as he has free time, if he's really popular you might have to wait a little longer.

Drinking, Lots of Drinking
Host clubs are pretty much all about drinking, conversation and karaoke. You don't order by the drink, however, you order by the bottle which can get expensive. Hosts and hostess will try to get you to drink as much as possible because they get a commission off of each bottle you buy.
You'll probably witness a champagne  call, where all the hosts will gather and bring a big bottle of champagne with a sparkler on it. The customer will then drink straight from the bottle while the host's clap and sing a song. Often times customers will compete for the host's attention and order a champagne call themselves.
You won't be drinking by yourself though, your host will drink with you, and it can get wild really fast. Of course, you can decline a drink by simply saying no, but they will persist. Once you're done at the club you can ask for the check, and your host/hostess will escort you out.

Selling a Dream
When you get down to it, the world of a host club isn't real. Because the life of a host really depends upon regular customers, they'll try their hardest to make you fall in love with them so you keep coming back to spend money. Host's will flirt with you, make empty promises and lead you on to ensure your continued business.
Hostesses will also do this to their male customers. Even though part of them knows that they won't make it with a hostess, they will still visit for their company, and hold on to their dream of being their hostess's one and only.
Alcohol and Other Problems
There is a really sad dark side to this profession. Many host/hostesses have drinking problems. Because a big part of their salary depends on drink sales they often destroy their bodies with the amount of alcohol they drink.
There is also some prostitution problems within the host and hostess community. Host's will sometimes have sex with their clients for cash, though this is against company policy it still happens.
Emotionally, these people can become exhausted. Putting on a mask everyday for customers can be emotionally taxing, and it's not uncommon for customers to become somewhat abusive to their hosts.
Should You Visit?
Overall, host clubs can be a fun experience, but it can be hard going there knowing that it's all fake. You have to keep in mind that these people are flirting with you because its their job. If you do plan to visit try to give them a break and don't order a drink, be kind and courteous to them, and treat them like human beings. They'll really appreciate you for it, and you could brighten up their whole day. 

Donna Rhae