It’s possible, but it it’s not quite as simple as walking up to the doorman and asking to come in.
Why? Isn’t my money as good as the next girl’s?
Well, for starters, there’s a bit of a language issue. While there might be a few hosts who speak languages other than Japanese, most guys who go into the host business come from places where they didn’t meet many foreigners (if any), and most hosts weren’t exactly the class grind in high school. So while you think it would be a lot of fun to drink with them even if you have to communicate in sign language, the idea of having to entertain a scary foreigner without being able to use the gift of gab he’s so good at strikes fear into the heart of the bravest host. Clubs don’t want to put their staff into a position that they’re not equipped to handle, so as a rule, foreigners aren’t welcome. Even if you walk down a street in Kabuki-chō where dandies are accosting every other girl who walks by, most of them won’t even make eye contact with you if you’re a foreigner, let alone hand you a flyer for their club.
But what if I can speak Japanese?
Seems like that would solve the problem, right? But the second reason most clubs exclude foreigners is cultural. There are definite rules of behavior at a host club, but they’re unspoken. Japanese customers all know what’s allowed and what isn’t, but foreigners might not. Host clubs want to avoid situations where a customer does something that makes it unpleasant not only for her own host, but for the rest of the customers as well.
Imagine, if you will, a tipsy foreigner demonstrating just what she did last year in a Ft. Lauderdale bar during Spring Break. Or a customer who mistakes her host’s flirtatious attentions for a genuine invitation to take it all to the next level. And what about a customer who doesn’t understand the system, so she tries to order a drink, then thinks it’s outrageous she’s expected to buy the bottle? Or a customer who whips out her credit card at the end of the evening, only to find out that it’s cash only and she’s thousands short. The idea of having to deal with any of these situations is horrifying enough, but to have to do it with a customer who doesn’t speak Japanese is unthinkable. It’s easier just to say no to all foreigners than to take the chance someone will ruin everybody’s evening.
Yeah, but what if I speak Japanese, and I’ve read all your tips, and I’ve diligently checked out the do’s and don’ts and prices on the club’s website? There’s no reason they shouldn’t be happy to have me as a customer, right?
You’d think so, but the third reason foreigners aren’t particularly welcome is economic. Host clubs don’t make money on people who come once for the novelty of it. Their business is built on customers who come back again and again, who develop a (costly) relationship with a host. And they know most foreigners balk at paying host club rates for the kind of attention they expect to get for free from their boyfriends/husbands.
But I still want to go! Are you telling me it’s impossible?
No. Read on: How can I go to a host club?
Fallen Angel readers often ask me what it’s really like to go to a host club. If you’re curious too, here are answers to the TOP TEN QUESTIONS ABOUT HOST CLUBS:
Why do women go to host clubs?
What kind of women go to host clubs?
What’s it like to visit a host club?
How expensive is it to go to a host club?
What is a host club “champagne call”?
Can foreigners get into a host club?
How do I find a good host club?
Why do hosts dress like that? Everything you always wanted to know about host fashion.
A Day In The Life: What’s it like to be a host?
Photo courtesy of Oh! Club! Host Walker website.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for
Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had
31 thoughts on “Can Foreigners Get Into A Host Club?”
ah, sorry I’ve been away so long! last year was a big year year for me health wise, so I’ve been recovering mostly. I’m not going to go into detail, but I will say I’ve had parts rebuilt starting from the head down, lol. Take my advice- take care of yourself while young, or plan on having repair work done later, lol.!
I see you have another book out, so I”m off too buy it. Do you have a website set up to advise fans when your works are coming out? If so, send me the link so I can sign up!
Your Texas friend,
ps, so sorry you could not attend WorldCon- I got an award for being cheerful and helpful, lol… all of my friends snorted assorted liquids through their noses on hearing that, lol! I’m a naturally cranky person… but I work hard to make it funny 😉
Sara! I’ve missed you! And I’m so sorry to hear it’s because you’ve had even more health stuff to deal with. (><) I'm sending the universe a message right now that it's time to pick on someone else for a while! And you're so sweet to ask about the latest book! I do my announcements and book giveaways on my Facebook author page (you can find it by searching Jonelle Patrick Author) – if you push the like button, you'll get a Japan photo every day, plus chances to win free copies when there's a new one out! (And I do plan to make it to WorldCon – love that you are cheerful, helpful AND cranky. heh.)
My niece is in Tokyo, and I’m jelly!
hi this is a very interesting read. I actually I am working in Kabukicho as a host. I can provide some insight and answer any questions you all have as well
Hi Joseph! Sorry I got caught in transit and couldn’t reply until now, because I would LOVE to meet you and hear more about your experiences working as a host in Kabukicho! (Can I ask, which club?) I know that the host world is always changing, and I would love to get an up-to-the-minute perspective from you. Plus, from your name, I’m guessing you might not be 100% Japanese…? If so, I’d be extra thrilled to meet you, because making it as a host in that world if you’re anything other than 100% Japanese must have unique challenges and rewards that I can only guess at. I’m out of Tokyo right now, but I’ll be back April 8th, and I’d be happy to meet you anytime, anywhere (or come to your club and request you, if that’s a better way!) Thanks for commenting, and I hope we can talk further (maybe even do a blog post interview, if that appeals…?)
Racism against anyone non-Japanese is also a factor in refusing entry – with other Japanese customers not wanting a gaijin in there.
Do you live in Japan? It kind of sounds like you’ve had experience. Do tell!
There are definitely times I’ve experienced being discriminated against because I’m not Japanese (don’t get me started about THE PHONE COMPANY!), but weirdly enough, it wasn’t at host clubs. The hosts have always been quite friendly, as long as I was with a Japanese friend and they didn’t have to worry about me doing something culturally lame because I didn’t know any better. And the other customers are also quite friendly, as long as I’m not being entertained by their main squeeze (in which case, it wouldn’t matter if I was Japanese or an alien with three heads – the claws would be OUT rarrr!)
Reblogged this on ☆ 美樹 ♪(´ε｀ ) ★.
Good question! The reason why I never tried is that I don’t find hosts very attractive even after watching a drama about hosts ^^. It’s true that even when you speak japanese you can feel excluded from places because as you pointed out they prefer to have regulars rather than gaiijns who come to have fun once and might do silly things. I wonder if I could go if I was included in a group …. oups I don’t think my japanese friends go there. I’ll read the following post to know more ^^
I know, right? My Japanese friends were all totally curious about host clubs, but when it came to actually going with me, it was hard to find someone who would actually go through with it!
If you ever go again and I’m in Japan I’d love to try.Can I ask how much it actually cost you?
Well, the first time it’s cheap! About ¥3000 for two hours. The second time it’s over ¥10,000. But honestly, the last time I went, I had to just lie face down on the rug afterwards, I was so exhausted. Imagine: two hours in a room with loud music, and every ten minutes a new Japanese native speaker arrives to talk to you. You have no idea what they’re going to talk about, no idea what vocab they’re going to use, and the constant topping up of your drink does not exactly help with comprehension aieeeee!
what is the average age of the host some of them look so young how possibly could they be allowed to drink alcohol
That’s quite a good question! A lot of Japanese men DO look a lot younger than they are (I know some hosts in their late 30s who get away with being perpetually 25 on their staff pages heh) but guys have to be at least 18 to work in a host club. That’s still two years shy of the legal drinking age, but I think (like in America) they’re allowed to serve alcohol, but not drink it. Theoretically you can work at a host club entertaining customers without drinking yourself, but mostly I think they don’t enforce it unless the police want to trip up the management for some other reason. Underage drinking is barely enforced in Japan anyway – everyone takes public transport if they’re drinking, so there’s not the same public safety issue of people drinking and driving, so they kind of just look the other way, for the most part.
I love that you’ve written extensively on hosts! I see that this post is a few years old, though. Any thoughts on how Kabuki-cho has changed? Or the Ikebukuro Red District–where rumor has it the business has shifted? Many years ago, okay–six, I had a host club weekend out in Kabuki-cho with a couple of foreign girlfriends who all also speak fluent Japanese and it was fabulous! I was living in Kobe at the time though, so my host club affair was fleeting. (Full disclosure, my fiance knew all about our shenanigans.)
Would love to sit down and compare host club experiences sometime! I hardly know anyone else who has been to one, even among my Japanese friends. The truth is, my host club visits were not so much for fun as for book research, so I’ve only been back once since I finished Fallen Angel. I think you might be right about Ikebukuro though – last fall, I spotted some new signs at all the major crossings, prohibiting men from chatting up strangers! Since most Japanese men would rather be tortured with hot pincers than try to pick up an unknown woman on the street, I figured they were totally aimed at rookie hosts putting in their time doing “kyachingu.”
So…having been to a host club once, would you go back? And would you go to the same one again, or a different one?
Hmm, given my current life situation and the fact that I have not been out with girlfriends sans child in nearly three years, if I were to get the chance of a night out, a host club is not high on the list of places I’d likely choose to go. I’d much rather spend the time rekindling the relationships that have taken the back burner to said child. 🙂 That’s not to say I didn’t totally enjoy it though. Had I lived in Tokyo I would have liked to visit various clubs to get a better idea of the lifestyle. I had a friend who dated a host, too. The stories she told were slightly tragic.
I’ve lived in Japan for six years and have been to many host clubs in kabukicho and the country side where I live and have never had an issue getting in. I do speak Japanese and have been an avid host club goer for 5 of my six years. There was definitely a learning curve to adjust to club norms and rules. But my first host was really understanding and had a number of foreign costumers in the past. I am actually now seeing the owner of one of the local clubs, so I don’t get to enjoy them much anymore since he gets jealous. What irony right? Sadly he knows everyone connected to other clubs in our town so it would eventually get back to him if I try to go to any.
Wow, I would love to meet you someday! It’s so rare to meet foreigners who have a real relationship with someone in the host club world, and it would be such a pleasure to hear about your experiences. I never dated anyone, but am friends with a host club manager, so he sort of pulled back the curtain and showed me what it’s like to balance his real life with the glam one. For example, nobody he worked with (except the club owner) knew that he was married with a teenage daughter, and his daughter had no idea that her father had been a host and managed three clubs.
I’d like to meet up too! I don’t have any friends who like host clubs, and it would be nice to talk to someone who understands that world and wouldn’t think I’m crazy… Nobody says it, but I can tell that even my closest friends are pretty judgement about how I choose to spend my money.
I kind of understand why your friend would choose to hide it. The guy I’m seeing usually keeps everything to himself, but he recently had a drunk melt down and I learned way more about the struggles of owning a club than I ever needed to know… I always complained he wasn’t open enough but now I realize it really was to keep me from worrying about him. >_<; And then add in the stigmas of working in that industry…
Last night I stumbled on your post while checking if there are still no host clubs in America. Hosts often ask me, and while I know there aren't I'd seen one in an American drama so I thought to google again. Well just now I looked at your blog closer. I didn't realize you were the author of Nightshade. I read it and really liked it.
Well, if that isn’t fate, what is? That is so amazing. I’m so happy our paths crossed! And let’s definitely get together – I’m in the States right now, but will be back in Tokyo in Sept. Are you in/near Tokyo, or should I start scheming on finding some book research-ish attraction to get me near where you are…?
I’m really excited to get to talk to you! I’m also really interested in another foreigners perspective. I feel like a lot of things that shouldn’t happen at clubs have happened to me since I’m foreign. So I’m curious as to your experiences.
I’m about 3 hours from Tokyo, but it’s easy for me to get there. And I love it so I’m always happy to go. You are also welcome to come here if you’d like. It’s a good tourist area if you’ve never been. Can I contact you via email or by some other direct message? I’m afraid of posting where I’m from incase someone who doesn’t need to know my hobby ever stumbled upon this ^_^;
Excellent! Yes, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make plans ヽ(*＾ω＾*)ﾉ I’m so looking forward to meeting you!
I honestly would love to try out a host club, I’ve seen it in so many dramas that I’d be so up for it, I’m normally very shy so guys don’t really ever talk to me so it would be interesting, I’m going to Tokyo in June but I don’t know anyone in Japan and I don’t know Japanese so will not get to experience it, well at least my pocket will be heavier lol.
Really enjoyed reading this, I came across by chance and definitely interested in getting the book.
Wow, you’re coming to Tokyo in June? That’s so great! Is it your first time? Actually, I’m guessing not, since if you watch Japanese dramas, you must be a veteran! lol I so wish I could send you to a host club that welcomes foreigners – I keep thinking they’ve got to open one, with the Olympics coming up & all, but so far, no luck. (And actually, if you’ve watched a bunch of host club dramas, you might be disappointed – the guys who work at real host clubs have their charm, but in real life, they’re nowhere near as handsome as the actors who play hosts in dramas. I remember thinking yikes, good thing it’s dark in here so I can live the dream, but in the light of day, hmmmm…)
If there’s anything else I can help you figure out for your trip, though, let me know! I’ve got another website too, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, if you want to see the places I take my friends when they’re in town. It’s over at jonellepatrick.com. I hope you have a grand time in Tokyo, even if you don’t get an evening with the hostly ones! ヽ(*＾ω＾*)ﾉ
Jonelle I have enjoyed the wealth of enlightenment on the culture of Japanese Host Clubs. My girlfriend and I are American and we are very determined to go to Japan and become host and hostess in different clubs. We have seen many features on the culture and norms of the clubs and how much they vary from the ways in America. My girlfriend is an a high class escort in America and I see what you write about clubs and fluency in Japanese. Sadly we are not but I know that many non Japanese speaking woman do well and I, while I am not a professional, I very much for the part of a “bad boy” in that Japanese androgynous way and I am not shy but very respectful. I feel like I have a very intuitive idea of how different these things are between our two cultures and while I imagine not common an American man who fits the part and would love to work for six months to a year both for the unique life experience as well as the pay. I know I’d he a novelty and something very unique (and I know we’d pick up the language in 3 months full immersion). Have you ever seen a white American Host boy? Do you believe this could be done? I’m going to go all the way regardless but I would love to hear any of the finer points you may be aware of. Any advice or observations would be incredibly appreciated. I am very grateful for your time. ~Roger
You sound like you’d be a very charming host – your enthusiasm alone goes far in recommending you for the job! – but I think the language barrier might be a bit of an issue. Your girlfriend won’t have any trouble getting a job as a hostess if she doesn’t speak Japanese, because some clubs seek out and specialize in foreign women, but host clubs serve a very different sort of clientele. Flirting with customers in a language they can understand is a big part of the job. As is interacting with your boss and fellow hosts – there’s a sempai-kohai system at host clubs (sort of like serving an apprenticeship) and you’ll be expected to follow all their instruction on how to do things to the letter, and perform all the chores that new hires have to do (like cleaning the bathrooms) for months before you’ll even be allowed to meet a customer. If you can’t understand your mentors and they can’t understand you, you won’t ever get past the apprenticeship stage.
If you really want to give it a go, though – and I’d love to see you succeed, because I’m sure you’d be very popular! – do an intensive Japanese study program before you go, so you can at least pass an interview and be able to communicate with your co-workers and boss. A lot of colleges run three month intensive courses during the summer, and at the end you ought to be able to speak enough Japanese to be basically functional. You can pick up more sophistication and fluency once you’re here. I say, go for it! If you can get yourself fluent enough to flirt, I bet you’d be a huge success!
Thank you very much for such a quick reply Jonelle. I had a feeling the language issue would be my biggest barrier. While I’ve seen a few documentaries, my favorite being The Great Happiness Space where they seem to mix up language between Japanese and English a lot I can definitely see your point with respect to the mentoring area and the underlying show of respect that comes with being linguistically prepared. While I doubt I could learn to read and write in Japanese (my cousin is fluent in Chinese learned in 2 years including writing I know different language but similar in the character system I believe) I am pretty confident if I were to devote a very significant amount of attention in a relatively short time I could get there and live for a month or two restricting myself to Japanese only I could learn well enough to be conversational and earn that respect as well. Again thank you for your very informative reply and as I’m sure you’d find it interesting at least in a “just to see if it can be done” way I will most certainly be back with an occasional update as things develop. Also thank you for the information for my girlfriend. She of course would do well she makes up to $2000US in an hour though her interest is not to escort there but more to hostess, although some of her clients spend more time attempting to get personal but over here one does not get paid that well for that although she knows how to play out any role.
May I ask just out of curiosity how you found yourself in Japan and learned so much about the topic to have written novels on it?
Actually, I’ve lived in Japan for a long time, and have relatives here. My Japanese cousin introduced me to her coed football teammate, who was a host club manager. Sadly for both me and you, he’s retired now and out of that world, but back then I became friends with him, and he let me come to the clubs he managed. Sometimes I went as a regular customer (so I could see what that’s like) and sometimes as a novelist, so I could ask the hosts questions about their lives. He told me a lot about what happens behind the scenes, and what running host clubs is like from a management perspective, and I became so fascinated by the world that it eventually became Fallen Angel.
But if you manage to become a host here, I would be SUPER interested in your experiences! I’ve been thinking of returning to the host/hostess club world in a new book, and it would be fascinating to model a character on a foreign host. Please let me know if you make it to Japan and get your foot in the door! I’ll be cheering for you and watching with interest. Best of luck!
I heard some hostess clubs sometimes allow foreigners to be hostesses , I’m a Good Looking 6ft BlondeDish Lion Athletic Ivy Varsity Football & Crew do you think the owners would let Me be a Host at a Host Club , I have a Feeling Once they’ve Seen Me would be like Oh Yeah Attract A Lot of Business Customers. I would like to feel secure before I move there knowing I will have some type of job security and I’ll be able to have an income and be able to apply for a longer stay work Visa. I haven’t finished My Ivy Degree so don’t think will allow to teach english , I have permission to take an Ivy Leave of Abscence for over 5yrs if wish to even encouraged by Ivy to Explore Experience Live in another Country , I don’t want ask them -grin- about Host Club heard can Be Lucrative well paying earning I’m willing even to wear Kitty ears. What ya think? Jonelle Hi
I’m afraid your timing is not so great right now, since Japan’s borders have been closed to foreigners for almost two years now. But that could be good, because if you don’t already know Japanese, it would give you time to learn (you have to speak Japanese to be a host) and it also might take time to find a job that will get you a working visa, because you’re not allowed to work on a three month tourist visa. I’m sorry to say that host clubs (and a lot of other jobs in Japan) don’t sponsor visas for foreigners. I hope you get to live your dream, though! Let me know if you make it, and I’ll come visit your host club!