One thing foreigners probably know very little about are Japanese “hostesses” and the “entertainment” district found in EVERY Japanese town and city.
These girls are 10 steps down from the geisha’s of Japan’s past, and two steps up from prostitutes in my estimation.
Every town has a drinking street which is absolutely packed with little bars called スナック (snack) bars. Most of these places have cute, young “hostesses” who hang out the street looking like prostitutes and lure Japanese men into the bars where they dote over them, pour them drinks, and give them artificial attention as long as they keep paying. Often you pay a certain amount per hour and Japanese guys go there in small groups.
American’s would think this is kind of shady, but Japan has a history of non-sexual/non-prostitute female entertainment (along side other things …)
These somewhat legitimate hostess bars do coexist along side prostitution however. In Japan outright sex-for-money is illegal, but the legal definition of sex is extremely narrow and it’s not enforced that strongly, so you will find “blow job bars” around these “entertainment districts” where men can pay about $80 for 35 minutes in a private room with a girl for the purpose of receiving oral sex which isn’t illegal. In most of these places however the girls probably have sex with the clients. You can identify these places by simple signs that usually say “System: 8,000 yen 35 minutes” or something similar.
For the record I have NEVER been to any of these places, nor would I go to any. I know about it because I find these entertainment districts infinitely fascinating and really want to photograph them more. I’ve done research on-line reading the blogs of those who have patroned these neighborhoods as well as asked people here in Japan about it. It’s something completely different from anything in America.
I shot this photo candidly with my vintage TLR camera while wandering my town late one night.