“I’m going to be a host.”
I told my friends this to their disbelief.
No one believed me, including myself. What was I getting myself into? What was a “host” anyways?
I was taking the breakup a bit hard I suppose. Becoming a host was my vendetta against all Japanese girls now.
You see, I had this bad habit. I’d date a girl for 2 months then just dump her when we had an argument. I’m a bit short tempered and at that time had zero patience for relationships. This time it hadn’t even lasted 2 months. 1 month and just shy of 2 weeks.
I wasn’t planning on dating her but she was the girl every guy wanted. I did it for the bragging rights. She spoke English rather well, she had a huge rack, was slender build with a pretty great butt too. I also wanted to beat my more flamboyant competition at the school, a douchebag named Kenny who dressed like a cheap Brooklyn pimp – furs and all, who was chasing her.
So I scored, then suddenly a week later of staying at her place she asks me if we’re dating. I said sure and then a month and a half later done with her.
As consolation my friends told me I should just keep hooking up with as many girls as I could ; I had a bet to win anyways. 30 girls by the time I left Kansai Gaidai the following year in June. It was originally May, but I tested into the highest level of Japanese which meant I joined the Japanese student track and my study abroad program was consequently extended until June. That meant instead of 3.75 girls per month, I’d only have to score 3.33.
Back to the host club interview.
A long month and a half long winter break was approaching with literally nothing to do. Most would go home for Christmas or stay in the dorms playing video games while teaching English illegally on the side. I thought that was a damn shame and decided I’d find a job to exercise my Japanese.
The first places I looked were ramen shops. I freakin’ love ramen. I ate it on an almost daily basis. What better way to practice Japanese than working at a ramen shop?
I began by scripting a sales pitch in Japanese:
1. Self introduction,
2. Why I was in Japan
3. How they would make more money with me working for them.
I rehearsed my sales pitch and struck off to the train station, approaching every ramen shop I could find.
All turned me down. They’d just look at me acting confused and asking me why I didn’t want to make more money teaching English. I’d tell them and they’d laugh then there’d be an awkward moment and they’d tell me they’d call me back. Without asking for my phone number.
I decided they must be afraid of immigration cops coming down on them for employing a student without a legitimate working visa so I changed locations by going a few stations away.
Then I decided to change my sales pitch:
1. Self introduction,
2. Why I was in Japan
3. Let me work for free I just want to speak Japanese.
Why not volunteer I thought. I could always teach English for 3-4 hours per week and still make $200 to makeup for the lack of pay.
So I went further down the train line, this time much closer to Osaka city to a place called Moriguchi city.
I’m white, blonde and blue-eyed. I’ve never had any discrimination problems my whole life growing up in America. But now I kinda get why black people are so angry. This was B.S.
By now it’s about 8pm so I decided to head back and drink with some friends. Two of my friends were Korean guys who had lived in Japan for awhile. The other guys were Japanese dudes I played basketball with who dressed like guidos.
Pretty bummed I was ranting about the white man’s plight in Japan and how the only jobs I could get were English-teaching jobs. They all laughed at me and said they couldn’t sympathize with me since I had an easy time picking up girls.
That’s when my friend Joo-sung perked up and suggested I become a “host”. I asked him what a host did.
“A host gets paid to drink with Japanese women.” He said. I was intrigued.
He continued to explain. “Bored women with lots of money to spend. They go to these trendy clubs with guys who dressup all nice and buy champagne and wine and the host, or the guy she picks as her man, gets a commission from the alcohol sales. If the woman goes back several times he continues to make the money.”
He then went on to explain that he and Woo had both worked as hosts illegally in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district. They made a considerable amount of money from it to keep them comfortably living in Tokyo.
“So I’m like a bartender that sits with the customer and drink? Are these old ladies or what?” I asked.
He continued, “No, they’re all young girls. Hostesses, strippers, any girl that gets objectified and wants to turn the tables by controlling a guy. Host clubs are real expensive so it’s not your normal Japanese girl. Sometimes you get rich girls that hate their daddies. Japanese girls are all obedient and this is how they relieve stress.”
That’s when my bball boys erupted in laughter.
“Do it Mike!!!” Ryusuke immediately added. “You’ll make a fortune!”
“Yeah, as long as he doesn’t sleep with his customers. Mike, think about the money not the honey.” Masaki added his two cents as well.
It was decided. I’d become a host. I had no idea what I was getting into.
“So how do I find a place to interview at? You interview, right?” I asked.
They all suggested I just go to Osaka and ask the guys on the street to join their club. They said to dress down and wear a hat, don’t make too big of a scene about it. Ryusuke, whose brother happened to be involved in some less than legitimate activities, told me to not bring ID or any cards in case I get mugged.
So I did the opposite of what they told me. Spiked my hair up and dressed up in a tailored jacket, v-neck shirt, jeans and monk-strap shoes.
After my friends left I set out for Dotonbori, a street famous for where Osaka’s hosts pick up their customers. Actually, “catch” is the official term; it’s officially an illegal activity with police patrols to hamper them.
Upon arriving I casually started walking around. I was looking for hosts approaching girls. My friends told me to find guys with “spikey anime hair, tight jeans, tacky jewelery and black jackets approaching girls with expensive brand items.”
Every Japanese guy wears tight jeans and does their hair. This was tough.
I walked down an alley closer to the sketchier part of town, called Minami. Both host and hostess clubs are located here as well as numerous bars, strip clubs and restaurants that stay open all night.
That’s when I saw two guys walking side by side with a girl suddenly stop, about face and pace back routinely to a spot near the canal bridge where similarly dressed guys were smoking. These were the hosts I needed to ask for a job.
I walked up to them.
They looked at me.
“I’d like to be a host. How about one of you introduces me to your manager?”
They all started laughing at me. Dicks!
“No I’m serious.” I said.
They kept laughing.
Then after a few minutes one of the guys stopped laughing and walked towards me.
“You want to be a host?” he asked. ”Then let’s see what you got. Catch a girl with me and I’ll watch.”
“How do I do that? Is it like just picking up girls at a club?” I asked.
The decent guy explained further while the others watched. “No no no. You’re not trying to sleep with her. You’re selling alcohol, with your personality attached to the price. Tell her two to come by your shop sometime and to get her number.”
“Ok then. My name’s Jon. What’s yours?” I asked.
“I’m Takuya. That’s my host name. You’ll need one too. Let’s do Taro for now.” He said.
“Taro? Ok whatever.” I agreed.
This was it. I had to impress this guy and he would hire me. My first interview was to pick up a girl.
I stood there. No girls. His a-hole buddies nearby spotted one and instantly yelled for me to go after.
So I did. Takuya remained so I guess that meant he didn’t want to scare her away.
Me: “Hello, my name’s Taro.” I began.
Her: “Huh??? What??? Taro??? You’re a foreigner. Taro’s a foreign name?” She stopped walking and turned to look up at me with big eyelash extensions and blue contact lenses.
Me: “Um, no it’s my host name.” I replied.
Girl: “HOST? You’re a host? Hahahaha. Where do you work? Tell me tell me I’ll go! I’ll pick you!” She was pretty ecstatic.
Me: “Sure, I’ll give you my number first. Will call you later. Let me see your phone.”
Her: “Ok here.”
I dialed my phone number and let it ring just to make sure I had her. I gave it back to her, said my good byes and walked back to the guys who were no longer laughing but talking about me now.
The group of guys were from two different clubs. Having proven myself now they were all trying to get me to join their clubs, each trash talking the other in typical Osaka style.
“Takuya, you gave me a chance so I’ll join your club.” I told him.
He smiled and gave me his card. ”Text me when you can start.”