Okay, is this a book lover’s ultimate fantasy, or what? A romantic read, dished up by a handsome young man with a talent for whispering sweet nothings in your ear while plying you with champagne?
The “Kabukicho Book Center” – a brand new crowdfunding idea by the venerable Smappa! host club group – promises to deliver all the host club goodies with the romantic page-turner of your choice! This love-themed “bookstore” offers no fewer than fifteen doki-doki funding tiers (from about $30 to $8,000!), with progressively more heart-pounding rewards – from a single romance novel lovingly signed by one of the host “clerks” (which also gets you past the doorman and entitles you to unlimited host ogling and fantasizing), all the way up to a host-led tour of Tokyo or the party of your dreams, complete with champagne tower and hostly attention galore.
But here’s the big draw for us non-Japanese types: if you’ve always wanted to quaff a glass of bubbly with flirty, bad-boy-rock-star look-alikes, but have been stymied in your attempts to get yourself in the door of a regular host club, this could be your big chance! Make a pledge through this crowdfunding site and you’re IN.*
The site is only in Japanese, but here’s all the info!
For ￥3,000 you get…
• Entry to the club (along with a little hostly attention from the “clerks”) plus a romantic paperback, with a card lovingly signed by one of the host club “clerks”
For￥5,000 you get…
• Club entry and a keepsake card penned with a romantic message from one of the distinctly hotter-than-usual “clerks” and 11 tickets that can be exchanged for bookstore entry and coffee (hot or iced) at the store.
For￥10,000 you get…
• An hour with one of the hosts, a soft drink and a glass of wine (unless you’re a minor, then sorry, no wine for you! Gotta settle for two soft drinks).
• Hostly book delivery service – you pick up your six tickets at the store, and a host will accompany you back to Shinjuku (or Shinjuku-Sanchome) Station, carrying your books respectfully with both hands.
For￥20,000 you get…
• A ticket to the opening reception on Friday, October 6, 2017, from 7:00 – 20:00. You can bring one guest, and it includes party drinks and snacks.
For￥30,000 you get…
• An exclusive host bookstore clerk apron like the ones worn by staff members, which entitles you to become an insider and come once a month to the club with a guest.
For￥50,000 you get…
• An assortment of books on love, personally selected and inscribed by host bookstore partner and hipster coffeespot entrepreneur Kusanagi Yohei
• A bottle of wine and a romantic paperback, selected and inscribed by Smappa! Group manager Masaki Tezuka
• A romantic library of books crafted just for you by host bookstore manager Yasuhira Yanagishi, who will choose them after consulting with you about your deepest desires.
For￥80,000 you get…
• A four-hour visit to one of the regular Smappa! host clubs, where you’ll be entertained by a host (including karaoke, if that’s your thing) and you’re allowed to take as many pictures as you like. (Weirdly, food and drink is not included, but you can BYO if you arrange it with them in advance WAT)
For￥100,000 you get…
• The Business Trip Champagne Call – you and four friends can enjoy two hours at one of the Tokyo Smappa! clubs, being entertained by the hosts (although on top of the thousand bucks, you have to pay for alcohol/champagne tower set-up/anything the hosts eat while entertaining you – I suspect that the add-on costs for this one could really deliver that authentic host club experience by adding up fast!)
For￥300,000 you get…
• The Champagne Tower of Luv! Host a party for up to 30 people for one hour at one of the Smappa! Group clubs, complete with champagne tower. In a rare parting of the curtain, men are allowed to attend this event as your guests.
For￥500,000 you get…
• The Tokyo Love Tour. (I’m sorry, can I just say that again? TOKYO LOVE TOUR) Recommended for groups of women coming to Tokyo for the very first time, ten hosts will show you and nine lady friends around town (itinerary to be worked out with the club secretary in advance). It looks like you have to pay for transportation, food, and drinks on top of the price, however. OUCH.
• You and up to 29 guests can take over one of the Tokyo Smappa! clubs for up to three hours for an all-you-can drink partytime. Twenty hosts will be on hand to entertain you, with unlimited beer and shōchū. (Men are allowed as guests, and any drink orders beyond the included beer and shōchū are added on top.)
For￥800,000 you get…
• You and up to 29 guests take over a Smappa! club for three hours, complete with champagne tower, champagne call, unlimited beer, shōchū and wine (and, of course, hosts!) Men are allowed as guests.
This venture is a collaboration between Tezuka Maki (who heads up the very successful Smappa! host club group), Kusanagi Yohei (president of Tokyo Pistol Co., Ltd., which is a conglomerate of businesses that include cafes and event spaces), and Yagishita Kyōhei (who opened a bookstore in fashionable Kagurazaka after a career in the publishing industry). According to their statements on the crowdfunding site, they want to introduce both host clubs and bookstores to people who don’t usually visit them.
Sounds like an excellent investment to me!
If you’d like to try it and you’re going to be in Tokyo between now and March 2018, scroll down for a step-by-step guide to navigating the Japanese-only crowdfunding website.
* You’ll need to be able to speak Japanese (or the hosts won’t be able to entertain you), and read it well enough to navigate the crowdfunding site. They also reserve the right to refuse your money, which (if you have a foreign name) seems a distinct possibility with the more expensive reward levels. Those involve serious back and forth (in Japanese) with management to set up parties/tours, and the Smappa! management might not want to risk allowing a club to be be taken over by thirty guests who may not understand the rules and/or speak Japanese.
General disclaimers from the site: All of the rewards have to be used before March 31, 2018. You aren’t allowed to choose which host entertains you or which books you get, scheduling your event/visit has to be worked out with the club management in advance (and there are definitely blackout & vacation dates you’ve got to work around), anything outside the alcohol brands and snacks included in each particular package is charged on top of what you already paid, and except for the party packages, it’s ladies only. Also, the Smappa! Group has clubs all over Japan, but this thing is only in Tokyo.
So what do you think? Ready to try it? Here’s how:
• Nip over to the Kabukicho Book Center crowdfunding site
• Scroll down the right hand sidebar of funding options and click on the one you want. This piece of information under the title that looks like this: 残り48個 tells you how many units of that particular option are still available. (In the case of the ones that allow you to bring guests, each unit is for the buyer plus their guests. For example, if the option for a champagne tower party with 30 guests reads “残り10個,” that means ten people can pay that funding level amount and each of those can have a party with 30 guests. Like that.)
• At the bottom, choose from the payment options:
Here are the screens you’ll see as you work your way through the credit card option:
Good luck, and have a blast!
All photos from the Makuake crowdfunding site.
I write novels set in Tokyo, and the second one takes place in the host club world, so I spent quite a bit of time in them, doing book research. If you’re curious about what it’s like to go to a host club, here are answers to the TOP TEN QUESTIONS ABOUT HOST CLUBS:
If you can’t make it to Tokyo right away, you can always meet the hosts whose lives unfold behind the closed doors of Club Nova in Fallen Angel…
Watch the Fallen Angel book trailer (1:08)
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!