Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Hostess Clubs

Hostess clubs are one of the facets of mizu shobai (Japanese nightlife). Mizu shobai translates to “water business” and this term is used to “connote fluidity—an occupation that one can float into and out of without the rigidity required by other forms of employment.” (Allison, 33) Hostess clubs offer young, attractive Japanese women the opportunity to earn a substantial of money for spending their nights serving and flirting with Japanese businessmen (or 'salarymen').

Hostess clubs are often frequented by groups of ‘salarymen’ from a particular office who, in the hostess club environment, are able to break away from the otherwise rigidly imposed hierarchy of the office. (Allison, 35) The hostess club is popular for after-work socializing and the continuation of business and, as the author explains, ‘salarymen’ are far more likely to spend their nights working and playing in hostess clubs rather than their own homes. She explains that most ‘salarymen’ perceive hostess clubs as offering a more relaxing atmosphere with greater luxury and without the presence of wives and children. (Allison, 36-37) The fact that the average ‘salaryman’ prefers to spend his nights with other men while being served and pampered by flirtatious women rather than spend time with his wife and children perfectly illustrates the degree to which these men favor the caricature of a subservient, flirtatious, and simple woman. 

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