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A Day In The Life: What’s It Like To Be A Host?

HostWork1a
“My name is Sakura, and this is our newest host, Yua. If you join us tonight, you can see what a new host does!”

Join veteran host Sakura-san as he teaches his new recruit “Yua-kun” the ropes! First, a run-down of a typical day in Yua’s life:

11:00 a.m.: Wake up*

Noon: Go to the hair salon to get his tresses waxed, teased, arranged and sprayed.

1:00 p.m.: Go home and relax until it’s time to go to work

4:00 p.m.: Leave for work.

4:05 p.m.: Arrive at work. Do various chores before opening the club, then support Sakura-san entertaining clients until midnight.

12:00 a.m.: Every day is different, but even though 12:00 is “closing time,” the door may not swing shut behind the last customer until 1:00.

1:00 a.m.: Talk with co-workers at the after-hours staff meeting.

1:30 a.m.: Go out to eat and drink with co-workers

5:00 a.m.: Go home and sleep.

* You may have noticed that the a.m. and p.m. hours are switched on the Japanese schedule in the box above. That’s because hosts live a life that is 12 hours ahead of day workers, and they say, “Good morning!” to their co-workers at 7:00 p.m.rather than 7:00 a.m.

Okay, let’s see what happens during the hours Yua is at the club:

HostWork1b
Yua (to his mentor and other hosts): Good morning! (even though the sun already went down.)

Yua starts his workday doing the scut work: wiping down the tables until they gleam to the manager’s satisfaction, setting up the first customer’s glasses, ice bucket, tongs and ashtray, and doing even less glamorous things like cleaning the toilets. His mentor advises him that even though these jobs are not exciting, if he does a good job, he’ll prove himself to the manager as a hard worker and will graduate to being a top-earning entertainer faster.

HostWork2a
Our customer-angel admonishes Yua to listen to his mentor and follow his advice, so he can “level up” as soon as possible.

Okay, it’s almost time for the club to open! Before the first customer arrives, Yua must do a proper “aisatsu” to his mentor, bowing respectfully and asking Sakura-san to do him the great favor of teaching him  the proper way to become a good host. If Yua diligently does everything Sakura asks him to do and thanks him properly for teaching him (even when Sakura scolds him for making a mistake), Sakura will return the favor by introducing him to his customers and helping him build a customer base of his own. Today Sakura will teach Yua how to light a customer’s cigarette. Sakura shows Yua how to flick his lighter to life, cupping it in his hand near himself so as not to endanger the customer, then light the end of her smoke with a graceful gesture.

HostWork2b
Tonight’s additional lesson before the club opens: How to pour a drink. First, use the tongs to place ice in the glass deftly and silently, trying not to rattle the cubes or tongs against the side. Then rest a pinky finger on the table and  – using that hand for support – rest the bottle label-side up on the hand and tip liquor into the glass, pouring in the sho-chu without letting the bottle clink against the rim. Top the glass up with water, using the same pouring technique. Then use one hand to shield the customer from splashes and deftly stir the drink, without making any noise. Still shielding the customer, let the stirrer drip into the glass, then use it to make your own drink. Place the stirrer back on the napkin on the tray, then offer the customer’s drink to her respectfully with both hands. With your own drink, propose a toast, making sure that when you clink your glass with hers, you do it respectfully with both hands and take care to make sure it’s in the lower position.

Finally, opening time! Tonight Yua is lucky – he’s not being sent out to the nearby street to do “catching” duty, inviting girls into the club. Sakura introduces Yua to his first customer, and the new host practices what he just learned, taking care of the customer and his mentor with proper respect. He does his share of keeping a lively conversation humming along, then thanks Sakura’s customer for letting him intrude on their evening, proposes a toast to both of them, then gracefully exits to give them some time alone.

HostWork2d
The club is busy, and 1:00 comes all too soon. “Good work tonight! Job well done!”

We’re left with the  parting message that good-looking guys who think this might be the ideal job for them should know that the mentors at the sponsoring club (Top Dandy) will not only train them to become top-earning hosts in no time, the club also offers snazzy designer suits for rent until the nouveau host can afford his own, the job is flexible and hosts can get their pay at the end of every workday, they can make use of the hair-make stylist who comes to the club every day before it opens, the club will pay for singing and dancing lessons, the club will pay for all the hosts to go on vacation together (sometimes to foreign countries!), and if they make it into the top five earners, they’ll really level up to the big money, with bonuses on top of their salaries and a percentage of their dedicated customers’ bar tabs.

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 can I go to 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 essay courtesy of Men’s Yukai magazine.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo. If you ‘d like to spend some time shadowing a deadly charming host yourself, slip behind the closed doors of Club Nova in Fallen Angel

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The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when…read more

Watch the Fallen Angel book trailer (1:08)

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

4 thoughts on “A Day In The Life: What’s It Like To Be A Host? Leave a comment

  1. Love it, Jonelle, and I just posted about sushi using the phrase “scut work” so it was fun to see it here.

    My sensei once did a toast with me, both hands, lower position, but it was a tiny shot glass of cheap champagne and the whole business just looked ridiculous.

    • Ha, that’s hilarious! Now that you mention it, just about everything hosts do and say and wear would make me laugh/back away in horror if an American guy (or any regular Japanese guy!) tried it, but somehow they pull it off and look cool doing it. Go figure!

      And I think we should tag our sushi/host posts “scut work” and see if we get any mutual hits…

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