Japanese Nightlife Series Vol. 3: An Introduction to Hostess Clubs
Hello again, everyone, this is Aoshiso!
Welcome to Vol. 3, where we take a look at the hostess club, known in Japanese as “kyabakura,” ( contraction of "cabaret club").
What Is a Hostess Club?
The hostess club is an establishment where "hostesses" or "cabaret girls" come to site at the guests' table and serve drinks while engaging them in conversation and drinking with them. There is usually one cabaret girl per male guest at the table.
As mentioned in the previous Girls’ Bar article, there are cases where the staff refuse entry foreigners because due to the language barrier. Unlike girls' bars, it's more difficult to enjoy a hostess club if you unable to have a conversation.
Under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses, all staff in a hostess club must be older than 18 years of age and such places must close at midnight. If one of these clubs is still open after midnight or a minor is working there, it is probably an illegal establishment and best avoided.
Hostess Club Charging System
A hostess club will definitely charge a set fee, a service fee, and tax.
In each hostess club, there is something called a “set fee”. This is simply an hourly charge. In many cases, it is actually based on periods of 50 minutes. The set fee includes the cover charge and the house bottle charge. The price of set fees can range from 3,000 yen (US$28) to 8,000 yen (US$75).
An additional 10-30% of the bill is charged as commission to the cabaret girls.
This refers to the consumption tax, but in the case of the hostess clubs, there is a slight difference. Anything from 10%-30% will be added to the bill on top of the regular consumption tax, which is 10% as of October 2019.
Credit Card Fee
When paying by credit card, many clubs will charge a 10%-20% credit card handling fee.
If there is a particular cabaret girl you would like to stay at your table, you will need to pay something called a nomination fee. If you do not choose a specific girl you will not be charged this fee. Nomination fees will typically be 1,000 yen to ¥3,000 yen.
This fee occurs when the set-charge time is exceeded. For up to 30 minutes past the set time, it will cost between ¥3,000 and ¥5,000, while in the case of an additional 60 minutes, 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen are typical market prices.
Food and Drink Charges
Drink charges are separate from bottle charges that are included in the set price. This charge is incurred when you order a drink that is not included in the set, or when you treat a cabaret girl to a drink.
A drink usually costs around ¥1,500. A bottle costs around ¥4,000 but expensive ones can cost several million yen! There is a wide range of prices for food from 1,000 yen to 30,000 yen.
3 Notes of Caution When Visiting Hostess Clubs
１．Only enter the establishment after clarifying all the charges
As mentioned earlier, since the charging system differs from club to club, there may be cases where the bill is more than you expected.
In addition, there are places that will rip you off (known as "bottakuri" in Japanese), and you may be charged an unreasonable amount of money. Although Japanese people also end up in these situations, tourists and foreigners are often targeted as the language barrier and unfamiliarity with Japan make them easy pickings.
Be sure to always carefully memorize the types of fees charged and the prices of the drinks.
２．Do Not Touch the Women
This is an obvious rule, but it is prohibited to touch the women while they are working. The girls bar is only a bar, not the type of place that allows physical contact. If this happens, you will not only receive a warning from the staff, but you can potentially be asked to leave and the police may be notified, so please keep your hands to yourself.
３．Do Not Drink Too Much
When men drinking with attractive, engaging women, they often forget how much time has passed. That's part of the business model at girls bars, so it is advisable to stop drinking after a while. The more time you spend, the more you run up your tab. It is probably a good idea to leave the bar after an hour if possible, two hours at most. In this way you can avoid the risk of running up a punitively high tab.
Best Spots to Find Hostess Clubs in Tokyo
Lastly, here are some places where it is relatively easy to find hostess clubs in Tokyo.
Japan's largest entertainment district. This is where the most hostess clubs can be found. It is also fun just walking around the area if you do not feel like spending a lot on a night out.
An area that attracts Japanese office workers and people across a wide age range. There are many popular hostess clubs here.
A neighborhood reflecting Japan’s youth culture. The hostess clubs are also young and lively here. If you want to meet Japanese "gyaru" (loud, trendy girls), Shibuya is a good fit.
If you want a taste of a luxury atmosphere, try Ginza and Roppongi. There are a number of hostess clubs that Japanese celebrities secretly visit. The price is high, but the quality of the hostesses is much higher.
If you got this far, thanks for reading. What do you think? Actually, cabaret clubs are sometimes used by Japanese office workers for work-related entertainment...seems a bit strange, doesn’t it?
See you again in Vol. 4!
※ This is a reminder to foreign tourists visiting Japan, FUN! JAPAN does not endorse visiting any such clubs, so do so at your own risk.