Selling love, romance, and companionship for wealthy women seeking an escape.
Tokyo has always had a magical effect on me. I grew up in Hamamatsu, a mid-sized industrial city known for producing Yamaha motorcycles and pianos. In contrast to my ordinary life there as an office assistant in the mid-nineties, I found Tokyo to be extraordinary—with its splendid commercial districts, dense population, and urban sprawl.
Tokyo’s host clubs evoke ambiguous feelings of pleasure, danger, risk, and reward among people seeking temporary escape and entertainment.
After studying in the United States for seven years, I returned to Japan in 2004 as an anthropologist to conduct research on Tokyo’s red-light district and the host clubs where men cater to female consumers for exorbitant sums of money. While living there, I saw firsthand how rapidly Tokyo had changed since my youth in the nineties. For instance, Roppongi Hills, a 54-story mega-complex of apartments, offices, bars and restaurants, designer boutiques, galleries, and a movie theater had just opened. Real estate developers, politicians, and journalists heralded the project as a vivid symbol of Japan’s future. Tourists took advantage of the building’s rooftop observation deck not only for its panoramic views of the city but also the excitement and even optimism that these scenes of urban life often provoke. While visitors enjoyed the view, global investors were privy to a different vision: such urban developments are also sites of intense speculation.