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Tokyo’s Ikebukuro the latest hunting ground for bottakuri scammers

Spa! Oct. 15-22

Upon exiting an izakaya restaurant in Ikebukuro, 33-year-old office worker Yosuke Nakanishi (a pseudonym) and five colleagues were summoned among the entertainment area’s hustle and bustle.

“Hey, buddy,” said a voice on the street. “Are you interested in a titty pub for 6,000 yen?”

Nakanishi tells Spa! that with the last train still a ways off the group agreed that 6,000 yen seemed like a reasonable amount to pay for a final stop for the night.

Thus begins a tale of how scams termed bottakuri, meaning to rip-off, are being carried out in and around JR Ikebukuro Station.

They were then directed to a nondescript, multi-tenant building about a five-minute walk from the station’s West Exit. The article assigns the name of the business to be simply M.

“The elevator opened on the designated floor and there was a sign taped to the very unattractive front door that announced ‘membership system,'” he says. “From there, we each paid 6,000 yen to a bearded guy with a rather intimidating demeanor.”

Nakanishi says that with a clear head he would have thought twice about entering such a place but the power of alcohol, consumed at the izakaya, had dropped his defenses.

The interior was bland, something similar to a low-end kyabakura (hostess club). Without any music playing, the group found this to be a rather strange oppai pabu (topless bar) as they squeezed into a booth.

After waiting 20 minutes without being served, a woman appeared. In broken Japanese, she said, “How about leaving here for a date outside?”

The coworkers then realized that something was up. Nakanishi knew that such services featuring Chinese women existed in the Kabukicho red-light district of Shinjuku, but this was a first for him in Ikebukuro.

“After she said the price was 30,000 yen, I thought we would just have one here and split,” he says. “But the intimidating guy with the beard said the official price is 36,000 yen and that we’d have to pay 30,000 yen to leave.”

This story has a happy ending as the group was able to successfully leave the premises after protesting the additional fees.

Spa!, however, hears from another man who visited same establishment but whose evening did not end in a similar fashion.

“A guy called out to me asking if I wanted to hit a pub staffed with adult video actresses for 10,000 yen,” says the man, who is in his 30s. “So I was I taken to the shop, where I was told I had to pay more and take a girl outside.”

Sensing a negative environment, he moved to leave. “But they demanded, ‘Pay the difference!” he says. “I relented and got stuck with an old Chinese hag.”

According the article, M has also presented itself as a “happening bar” and “high-end club” via touts working Ikebukuro’s streets.

With year-end parties around the corner, one must be especially cautious when making merry, Spa! reminds its readers. (K.N.)

Source: “Ikebukuro de akushitsu na bottakuri higai ga kyuzochu,” Nikkan Spa! (Web)