Host clubs are a bit more controversial then the regular maid cafe, and maybe not an establishment many tourists will end up visiting. They are categorized as establishments linked to prostitution by many, although they are not illegal. Once entered, you are fully serviced and waited upon by a small army of ‘hot guys’ (depending on your taste in guys), telling you how beautiful/interesting/wonderful you are. They pour your drink when your glass is almost empty and will listen to any story you have to tell. A visit is not cheap: the hosts’ drinks (as well as your own) go to your tab, and that is complemented by an hourly fee. If you order some champagne, your bill can easily climb into the thousands of dollars. But, worry not, a first time visit is cheap (since they want to lure in new customers) and depending on the club will set you back some 3000 yen (US$ 29).
The idea behind host clubs is that the customer ‘falls in love’ with the host and keeps on coming back, spending loads of money trying to monopolize her favourite host. This way, some girls have gotten into trouble financially before, which caused host clubs to have quite a bad name in Japan (that, and the smell of prostitution, probably). But, if you’re only in town for a week chances are small you come again, making it a relatively innocent night of pure ego polishing.
Note I: most host clubs only accept Japanese-speaking (female) customers.
Note II: the Kabukicho area, where most host clubs are found in Tokyo, can sometimes be a bit dangerous. Be careful with your stuff and yourself.
photo courtesy of jonellepatrick.me