Nightspots feel financial aftershocks


Ginza at night

TOKYO (majirox news )- For an ordinary guy without money or influence, becoming popular among the women working in the entertainment districts is a daunting task. No matter how good-looking a guy is, he won’t get far in these bars and nightclubs without money. But now, the power dynamic has changed, and the entertainment districts are actively seeking male patronage.

The situation changed in the entertainment districts after the earthquake struck northeast Japan in March. Major corporations have been affected by the disaster, and a prevalent mood of self-restraint has placed entertainment business in a slump.

Over the past month, Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district has seen about 300 establishments, including restaurants, close their doors, according to the Mainichi Shimbun. Now, hostesses are being laid off on a daily basis.

Hostesses have been one of the most inviting facets of Japan’s bars and nightclubs. At a typical hostess club, a mama-san (the female owner or manager of the club) greets all guests at the door. Then, attractive young women proceed to flatter the guests, light theirs cigarettes, pour drinks and make attentive conversation. The hostess might be seen as a modern day geisha, as she entertains the male customers.

“I used to go to hostess clubs a lot,” says Shun Obata, 26, who works in a trading company in Tokyo. “But after the earthquake, it didn’t seem appropriate to go out. But I’ll start going again this month.”

In fact, Ayumi Sato, 27, a hostess who works in a nightclub, says business is already getting back to normal. She points out, however, in the less expensive clubs, unlike those in Ginza, did not experience a significant difference in revenue since March.

Last month, Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged the public to refrain from a mood of excessive self-restraint and to return to a normal way of life while maintaining a spirit of thoughtful compassion towards the disaster-stricken areas.

On his Web site, the Prime Minister explained, “A mood of excessive self-restraint could reduce consumption and dampen the business activity of Japan as a whole. Conversely, purchasing products from disaster-stricken areas and enjoying them would help to support the affected areas.”

With trains now running more regularly, no rolling blackouts and longer business hours, well-known Japanese columnist Taro Maki further encourages Japan by urging, “Donations are great, but people need to exhibit some of the kindness needed to smash the self-restraint recession.

Japanese attitudes post-quake

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