Kabukichō is Tokyo’s red-light district and one of the most lively once the moon has risen. Massive billboards advertise all different kinds of entertainment on offer, including young men available to keep women company. They can be found in “host clubs” – the male version of the more popular hostess clubs – which have started to open as women in Japan became more independent and emancipated.
All types of women come to these clubs, from the office workers to the ones themselves working in clubs. They are all looking for a “boyfriend experience”, to spend some time with a man who treats them nicely and has a chat with them over drinks. Some say it is the only place where they can get that and they are willing to pay a lot of money for it.
The men are usually from low-income families and are attracted to the job by the easy money and the popularity they can achieve. They spend a big part of their income on expensive clothes and accessories, but also plastic surgery. They all try to look like the most popular pop idols of the moment, an androgynous look achieved by surgically removing their beards, getting eyelid surgery to get rid of the “almond eye” and have a “western fold” but also getting tear bags injected because they “look cute”.
In a few years they can earn what a “salary man” takes a whole life to earn, but it doesn’t come easy, as Tsukasa explains:
The most difficult part of this job is that I have to flirt with girls that I don’t want to flirt with. Our job is selling a dream and sometimes that includes having sex, but we call it “business sex”. Some girls think they are the only one we are interested in, but in reality they aren’t. It’s our job is to make it feel like they are in a relationship with us, that’s our business.