Let’s break out the pencils, boys. It’s time to take some notes!
Kyabakura hostess clubs, where men pay to spend time with a girl who will pour their drinks, light their cigarettes, and generally lavish them with attention, are a common sight in Japanese cities. The equivalent for female customers is a host club, where women can be waited on by smartly-dressed male hosts. A newer addition to Japan’s nightlife scene are cross-dressing bars, which fulfil a niche gap in the industry.
At Bar Prince, in Tokyo’s Nakano ward, the boyish-looking staff in ruffle-trimmed “little prince” outfits are all cross-dressers. The bar operates a strict women-only policy which extends to staff as well as patrons. At hostess clubs, the customer is king: but at this club, the stated mission is to treat every customer like a princess.
If you’ve spent some time in Japan, you probably know that kyabakura, a kind of hostess bar or nightclub, are an established part of Japanese nightlife. There are kyabakura for all price ranges, and men can enjoy drinks and a friendly chat with young hostesses, or kyaba-jo, who fix you drinks, treat you very nicely and generally make you feel very good about yourself— all for a price of course.
And although the line can be fine sometimes, this usually doesn’t involve any sex at all. But if that’s the case, why do men pay good money just to drink and talk with girls? And if there’s no sex or infidelity involved, and if it’s so common in Japanese society, why does it bother women so much when their boyfriend or spouse goes to a kyabakura?