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Burning down the house: Tokyo hostess turns to arson

Burning down the house: Tokyo hostess turns to arson
Bar hostess told police: “I thought by doing arson I would be relieved from my stress”

The Mainichi Shimbun (Feb. 10) reported that Kazune Urata, a kyabajo, or nightclub hostess, living in the Sakuradai district of Tokyo’s Nerima Ward, was arrested on Feb. 6 for arson. A surveillance camera captured the 27-year-old woman using cardboard and a lighter to set parked bicycles alight.

This was probably not the first time for Urata. In the same building at the end of last month, a storage area and postal mailboxes had also been burned in a suspicious fire.

“My pay was really low,” she is quoted by Jiji Press. “I thought by doing arson I would be relieved from my stress.”

Nikkan Gendai (Feb. 11), however, believes that this was not a single incident of frustration and reports that the prolonged recession is making the lives of females working in the world of “night butterflies” increasingly harsh.

“What is troubling is that these places are yakuza-type operations,” says an employee in the restaurant business. “With the decline in the number of customers, if a girl fails to achieve the required number of dohan [customer dates] or shows up late to work, there is a big fine. While she may get 3,000 yen an hour as a wage, with all her costs subtracted, there are girls who are only being paid 400 yen in the end.”

Even at nicer clubs, the cries of the kyabajo can be heard. “With the emergence of girl’s bars, wages for kyabajo are going down dramatically,” says Yukio Murakami, a journalist who covers the fuzoku industry. “Two or three years ago, it was in the range of 2,700 yen to 3,000 yen an hour, but now it has dropped to between 1,500 yen and 2,000 yen.

After a gal passes the age of 25, it gets worse.

“She will be treated like a middle-aged lady,” Murakami continues, “and might only bring in 200,000 yen a month for working five days a week as her number of shimei (requests by a customer) becomes less and less.”

The purchase of fancy clothes has become an issue after basics, like rent and food, are taken into account.

“Moreover,” Murakami continues, “she has to make sales calls via her mobile phone. That bill has risen. A girl was saying recently that her former 20,000-yen-a-month bill has since doubled. There are girls who borrow from colleagues and keep changing the place of work as they cannot pay back the money back.”

Source: “Kyabajo donzoku monogatari,” Nikkan Gendai (Feb. 11, page 7)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.