In addition to crackdowns on soaplands and orgy parties that Weekly Playboy routinely features in its pages, the magazine, in its October 26 issue, is now finding that ‘girl’s bars,’ which are clubs staffed by ladies serving from behind a counter, are also becoming a target of the police. Yet a low profile is not an option as many are offering excessively provocative services — nearly a requirement in today’s tough economic climate.
Yui, a 19-year-old college student, tells the tabloid about a group of cops that showed up while she was working. “It happened so fast, and the bar was asked to stop operating. Apparently the problem was that the girls were sitting next to the customers. I was shocked because I thought this place was clean. But I quickly moved over to another girl’s bar,” she giggles.
A 10-year veteran writer for the “pink” trade offers: “The girl’s bar is registered as an after hours eating-and-drinking place, much like an izakaya. Because of this, they are not allowed to offer individual hospitality to customers. The only such place for that service is a kyabakura (hostess club), which is registered as an eating-and-drinking establishment that includes socializing.”
However, having an ordinary conversation over a counter is not categorized as socializing. So far, Weekly Playboy says, no joint has been busted for simple conversation. Girl’s bar owners, therefore, feel that if the ladies are standing there is no problem.
Yet an establishment in Akasaka was busted when seven girls were seen entertaining ten customers while standing around a table. “The reason for the violation was that the staff and customers were engaged in one-on-one conversations for a long time,” explains the same pink writer. “So even if the gals are physically standing there can still be violation.”
In April, a girl’s bar in Yokohama fell victim to law enforcement for entertaining at levels well beyond that of even a standard kyabakura. “The girls were wearing only men’s dress shirts,” a regular tells Weekly Playboy. “They even undid a few buttons to showcase cleavage. Some weren’t wearing bras so nipples were visible. Plus you could take them upstairs for karaoke on the second floor.”
When asked about the variety of girl’s bar services available, one club operator says: “That Yokohama place is just the tip of the iceberg.” He adds that a few of the prime pickings on offer include the taking of upskirt photos, being served by girls in loose shirts with only pasties over their nipples, and receiving suggestive touches, such as hugging.
Registering as a kyabakura under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses is out of the question, the same pink writer believes, because it is almost impossible to acquire a license nowadays. “Owners would rather just continue as a girl’s bar,” he explains, “and escalate the degree of services in order to survive.”
Why the need to escalate? “Well, for the past year or two the number of girl’s bars has increased exponentially,” he says, “and behind that is the decline in kyabakura, which can not operate after hours under the law. Plus the recession has caused people to move away from expensive kyabakura. That’s when the girl’s bar, where the prices are half, began to emerge.”
Adding to their appeal, the tabloid notes, is the fact that the ladies, often paid by the hour, are less aggressive with regards to sales. A girl’s bar owner comments: “In the ’80s, the kyaba-jo (hostesses) were popular because they were more casual compared to hostesses at high-end clubs in Ginza. These ladies had sales quotas and this created fierce competition among them. Customers began to desire a more casual style.”
The same owner goes on to say that typical infractions result in a mere 10-day cease of operations, a small penalty that makes the gamble worthwhile. “So they are not too worried. They are confident they can operate again soon,” he laughs.
The cat-and-mouse game is seemingly eternal, sighs Weekly Playboy. (K.N.)
Source: “Keisatsu no girl’s bar gari’ ga hajimatta!!” Weekly Playboy (Oct. 26, pages 55-57)