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Japan Subculture Research Center

A guide to the Japanese underworld, Japanese pop-culture, yakuza and everything dark under the sun.

Cabaret Club Girls in Japan: All You Ever Wanted To Know


Oct 3, 2009

The usually in-depth and well-written website Neojaponisme had a very interesting article about the Cabaret Club girl boom in Japan that is a nice companion/supplementary piece to Hiroko Tabuchi-san’s excellent article. The adult entertainment industry in Japan is a fascinating thing—and this piece, Kyabajo Japan, does a very good analysis of the social and cultural phenomenon behind the Cabaret Club Girl As Celebrity and examines some of the better Japanese writings on the subject. The hostess clubs and cabaret clubs of Japan seem to be permanently embedded in the landscape of the Japanese night, although the use of the these places to “conduct business” or “entertain clients” seems to be declining and several DPJ politicians recently came under fire for trying to claim their expensive hostess club forays as political activities and expensing them with political funds. Well, we’ll save that digression for another time.  An excerpt from the Neojaponisme feature is below and the full article is on their website.

Cabaret Club girls are neo-celebrities in Japan, even putting out CDs
Cabaret Club girls are neo-celebrities in Japan, even putting out CDs

The publication of the magazine Koakuma Ageha in 2005 sent a shock-wave through Japanese society: when did cabaret-club hostesses become socially accepted to the degree that they have their own widely-available fashion magazine? And when did “kyabakura girl” become a glamorous and enviable occupation for young women? The answers to these questions were not apparent. And since the Japanese media is not allowed to talk about trends in terms of socioeconomic class or subculture, Koakuma Ageha’s popularity gave the impression that all young women, no matter the family background, have suddenly clamored to work nights in Kabukicho. (–JRSC note–but it’s not that simple, as the author explains. For more read the rest of the article by clicking the link here)

3 thoughts on “Cabaret Club Girls in Japan: All You Ever Wanted To Know”
  1. Interesting to me that you have this tagged under “sex industry”. My friends and acquaintances that do this kind of work might disagree. Also, I have been to several of these clubs on different occasions and although its well…silly, and expensive, I would think to associate it with the sex industry.

    1. Well, there isn’t really a good word for 水商売 and adult entertainment industry seems like a workaround of the category. In general, the lure of the Cabaret Clubs for Japanese men is the faint possibility of being able to woo one of the cabaret girls into being their lover. It’s the subtext of the encounters–not always of course.
      At the same time, it’s not a club where sex is being offered and I wouldn’t want to imply that your friends are doing anything sleazy or morally questionable. There is certainly a kind of 癒し (healing) aspect and entertainment aspect to the clubs as well. I see your point and will think about changing the tag but right now “sex industry” as blunt as it may be–seems appropriate.
      But I’ll take it up for discussion with Sarah Noorbaksh, the chief editor, and see what she thinks as well. Thanks for writing in.

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