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The Asian ApertureThe Great Happiness Space
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 9, 2011    Share

Browsing through Netflix streaming offerings, I spotted a documentary on male hosts in Japan and decided to check it out. Located in Osaka’s entertainment district is a bar called Café Rakkyo that features male hosts that carter to female clientele. Café Rakkyo has gone on to become the most successful host club for women in Osaka. How all this was accomplished is an interesting story that will move your heart with joy and sadness.

I vividly remembered being a college student and getting off at Shinsaibashi Station and walking around the shopping area. There was a bridge were young guys with flashy suits and spikey hair would dart out in front of women to try to pick them up. That’s what I thought at the time. After watching The Great Happiness Space, I learned that I was wrong. Young men approach women on the streets and try to chat them up for the sole purpose of going back to a club. There, the women are encouraged to buy a drink. The scouts look out for tired office ladies, less than attractive women, and girls who seem lonely. The smartest women in the entire documentary were the ones who didn’t speak to the guys trying to pick them up. Two women were happily holding hands and told the guy they were lesbians just to get away. Once a woman goes to Café Rakkyo, she picks out a man that she likes and he pretends to be her boyfriend for the evening. For the lonely average looking girl, there is the chance to be with her favorite guy inside the VIP room at $50 an hour. $1000 bottle of champagne are ordered as the male hosts encourage women to spend money on them. In one single evening one woman spent $30,000. So what does all that money get you? Not sex, only conversation and a lie that you are in a relationship with someone who is pretending to care about you. A lot of the hosts don’t even care for their female customers. One of the women who admitted to be willing to die for her host and spent the most money every night, walked out of the club. When she was gone her host looked at the camera and said, “I really hate her. She makes my job hard because I don’t like her at all.”

How do women get tricked into this? It starts with a host who is able to read his customer’s mind and fulfills a need. He can be funny or say the right words to a broken heart. Anything that gets a woman to open up and trust him. Then he scolds her to show that this is the type of guy who will take care of her in the future. Afterwards she is hooked. She spends all her money on her favorite host. They drink together and share laughs for the night. However, when the time comes for sex, she is denied. When the time comes for the host to become her real boyfriend she is also denied. All that she gets is a fabricated dream that she is happy and experiencing pleasure from someone pretending to care. So on the surface the male host clubs appear to be just fun and games. There is a darkside.

Most people working at an office or poor college girls living on a budget cannot go out 3 nights a week to a host club. As the documentary states it is out of the reach of most people’s spending. So where do the girls get their money? Mostly it comes from prostitution. They have to sell their bodies to feed their addictions. When the money comes in it goes right back out and into the pockets of the male host. Also a couple of the guys interviewed complained that they hated lying to their customers but it was part of their job to lie and that kept the money coming in. One guy admitted to being lonely despite the fact that he was with beautiful women every night. He couldn’t have a girlfriend because he claimed that he understood women too well. The worst part was all the drinking and vomiting involved by the guys who had to live it up every night. The next morning several guys no longer looked well. They fell asleep inside Café Rakkyo and had to be picked up and pushed onto an elevator. Then they stumbled around the street trying to catch a cab or ride a bike in a drunken daze all the way home. That image brought out the reality of the life of the male host. Going home to a dingy apartment all alone with no one to talk to and sleeping all morning until that evening when the roller-coaster would go back up before crashing down the next day. All the glamour had been stripped away and the ordinary life didn’t look that bad by comparison.

The Great Happiness Space is a realistic look at the world of the male hosts and the problems that such an occupation creates. Creating lies leads to some women becoming disillusioned whenever the need for sex or a real boyfriend is so desperately needed. That is when most women quit going and the money runs dry at the club. A rare interesting look, from the inside, of something that can only exist in Japan.
5 out of 5 Stars for brutal honesty

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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