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Osaka’s onigiri ‘girl’s bar’ establishments on police radar

Shukan Jitsuwa Sep. 6
Shukan Jitsuwa Sep. 6
In the streets of the Kita and Minami entertainment areas of Osaka, a rather odd refrain is being uttered by touts of specialized hostess clubs: “How about an onigiri?”

Providing rice balls is the latest means by operators of “girl’s bars” to disguise their businesses as police authorities continue cracking down, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Sep. 6).

The “onigiri bar” is a sister operation to the girl’s bar in that it is legally registered as an after-hours, eating-and-drinking establishment so as to avoid more strict regulations under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.

The strategy of the operators is to make the establishment appear to be a typical restaurant or bar when in fact near hostess-club services are being supplied. One key is to have the female staff members positioned behind the bar counter, opposite the customers, as opposed to positioned side by side.

Shukan Jitsuwa wonders why onigiri, which is a wedge-shaped chunk of rice with a meat or vegetable filling, is the dish of choice.

“Providing food is not banned under the adult-entertainment law,” says a local fuzoku writer, that is, a specialist in the sex industry. “So, serving onigiri is taking advantage of that loophole.”

Osaka prefectural police have been instituting an ongoing crackdown on girl’s bars this year.

In April, authorities announced the bust of a girl’s bar Ace in the Minami area for employing two two girls, aged 12 and 13, attired in miniskirts. The manager and another employee were taken into custody for violating the Labor Standards Act and the adult-entertainment law.

On the afternoon of February 12, emergency services arrived at bar Sora, also located in Minami, to find a female high school student dead on the floor. The cause of death was determined to be acute alcohol poisoning. The manager was arrested for neglect.

Shukan Jitsuwa’s reporter decides to take a trip to Minami, where he finds a shop with a sign proclaiming “onigiri” out front. Upon inspection, he finds it to be a typical girl’s bar: A packed house of older gentlemen being served across a counter by three young girls, all of whom, he is told, are 19 years old — a proclamation that is emphasized.

“The police are so troublesome,” says the female proprietress.

The fee for three onigiri balls, free-flowing alcohol, including whiskey and shochu, and conversation with the girls is 3,000 yen per hour. Added fees are required to extend the session. (The Sankei Shimbun also made a pilgrimage to such an establishment and provided a photo of three female staff members in shorts and white tops.)

The police are keeping a careful eye on developments.

“According to various guide spots for night entertainment, there are 30 [onigiri] shops in Minami,” says a local reporter.

Some dubious places are said to offer onigiri for 10,000 yen a piece.

“Because the police do not share the viewpoint that these are legitimate operations, they are ready to move as soon as something happens,” says the reporter.

Source: “Tekihatsu nogare no kunikuno Osaka gaaruzu baa ga kozotte ‘onigiri baa’ ni noren kae,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Sep. 6, page 245)