I was having lunch at work the other day, and peered over my colleague’s shoulder to see what had her so captivated on her iPad. Believe it or not she was playing a game called キャバクラ (kyabakura). kyabakura, for those that may not know, is a sort of club where men pay to enjoy the company of a woman (or a hostess as they are called). And I don’t mean in a sexual way (although that may sometimes be arranged privately). These men just want to be in the company of a beautiful woman that has interesting conversation, and is there to listen to all their problems. Mix that with a whole lot of expensive alcohol and you have a kyabakura!
Of course you also have the reverse, where women will pay a host to listen to all her problems, and make her feel like a princess. This is referred to as a ホストクラブ (host club). The host is often very charismatic, and a bit of a performer. They usually employ a fake name that will describe their character and have the appearance of anime characters (in my opinion).
I don’t know if that video is a true reflection of a host club, as it seemed quite tame, but it gives a small idea of what a host is like. I think what was missing from that video was the party aspect of a host club. Which you can find in the video below when they do their famous シャンパンコ－ル (champagne call). Because the main aim of a host or hostess is to get the client to order as many drinks as possible.
It may seem odd to think that people go to these clubs to pay for friendship or a “platonic relationship” as mentioned in the first video, but think of it this way, think of it as going to see a psychiatrist. And I’m not trying to say everyone who goes to host clubs need to see a shrink! But yes, the Japanese are often described as being shy and not expressing their true feelings. So could the host club industry be seen as a form of therapy, without having to visit an actual therapist? Or on the other hand, is it just digging deeper into the lack of communication?
Or…is it truly all just fun and games? (and a dangerous one at that too)