Publication Date



Scott Aalgaard, Kerwin Kaye


Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality


English (United States)


In Japan, it is almost a part of businessmen's life to go to kyabakura and hostess clubs after their work in order to bond their co-workers, build better relationship with their business partners, or just simply consume intimacy female hostesses provide for them. Although both kyabakura and hostess clubs offer seemingly same service, which is to drink with female companions and have a good time together, they are constructed on different historical contexts, and have different relationships to Japanese economy. The concept of kyabakura and hostess clubs stays unique to Japanese society, yet they do exist in foreign cities. The tendency is that those clubs locate themselves in big cities where many Japanese businessmen migrate such as New York City, London, L.A., Hawaii, etc. Numerous scholars have been exploring hostess clubs and their workers' positionality in Japanese cities, especially those in Tokyo. But the very existence of Japanese kyabakura is barely academically explored. Especially those kyabakura that are located outside of geographical Japan is barely recognized. Because of that, workers in the clubs have been overshadowed and melted into the background of the city. More research needs to be done on kyabakura outside of Japan and experiences of workers. By speaking back to Anne Allison's work and building upon de Certeau's strategy vs. tactics argument, I am going to explore the positionality of Japanese hostess clubs' in New York City, and how workers utilize the space in order to survive in the city. Specifically, I am going to discuss: (1) how workers in the clubs utilize the space; and (2) how the workers' attitudes affect kyabakura as a workspace. To answer the latter question, I discuss the concept of cruel optimism, created by Lauren Berlant. In order to ground my work on the voices of actors in the space, I have interviewed 12 former workers who have worked in Japanese hostess clubs in New York City more than a month. This project seeks to show that how workers in these clubs utilize the space of Japanese hostess clubs in New York City in order to achieve "their desired future" in an exchange of compromising "their present situation," in which they had to endure harsh working condition of clubs. Their understanding of the space as their "temporal" tactics make them compromise to better their working situations, and that is the very reason why kyabakura continues to exist in the City.



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