Interactive Practices in Shinjuku Ni-Chōme’s Male Homosexual Bars

Ishida Hitoshi

translated by Richard Emmerson

    Background and the aim of the paper
  1. Shinjuku Ni-Chōme (2-Chōme) in Tokyo is currently home to the largest number of ‘homo bā’ in Japan, by some estimates over 200. Although there are some reports of a few drinking places frequented by homosexual men in the prewar period, the emergence of the homo bā is largely a postwar phenomenon. Reports indicate that early during the Occupation period (1945-52), there were already several homo bā established to serve ‘perverse foreign soldiers.’[1] During the postwar period, the centre of homosexual activity in Tokyo has gradually shifted from Ueno to Asakusa and finally to Shinjuku where Japan’s most lively homosexual entertainment area now prospers. The bars have also seen other changes, not simply in location, but also in terms of clientele, type of interaction taking place in the bars as well as in the bars’ pricing system.
  2. To date there has been very little research into Japan’s homo bā subculture. The paucity of this research results from a common attitude within Japanese academica (including gay studies) that drinking in such establishments is a mode of ‘play’ and can contribute little to our understanding of the homosexual subculture in Japan.[2] However, groundbreaking reseach has been done by Hideki Sunagawa, whose work is based on observation and interviews in homo bā.[3] Sunagawa observes that utterances such as ‘I’m looking for a boyfriend’, ‘I’m looking for sex’ and other sexually referential phrases tend to be central to conversation in the homo bā. As an explanation for this he says that if we can assume that confessions of sexual intent are among the most private and that declarations of the private amount to a declaration of intimacy and familiarity, then the constant sexual talk occurring in the homo bā should be seen not so much as an expression of desire but more as a means of forming some sort of bond of intimacy.[4] Sunagawa points out that this bond of intimacy ‘makes the collection of businesses in Shinjuku, which would otherwise be a place of simple commercial competition between bars, into something quite different’ (my emphasis). In short Sunagawa is saying that the homo bā, as meeting places for men bonded through their gay sexuality, function as an important gay institution, with unwritten social rules preventing the culture of the bars from being rationalised or otherwise reduced simply to the level of a commercial operation.
  3. However, my observations based on interviews in homo bā in this paper suggest that Sunagawa’s conclusion is unwarranted. The centeral interactive practice taking place in the homo bā is not concerned with developing intimacy via the discussion of sexual matters, but rather a game of sales boosting via the medium of ‘bottle-keep’ and ‘drinks by the glass’. The main interactive practice eagerly performed in the homo bā is actually not sexual in kind, regardless of the fact that the people converging in the bar share similar sexual interests. The main aim of this paper is to explain why the game of slaes boosting has become such a prominent interactive element in 2-Chōme’s homo bā, and to elucidate the characteristics of this game. This having been said, I do note that the performace of the 'drinks and sales' game, when performed properly, can, on occasion, lead to romance in the homo bā.
  4. It is also necessary to explain why I have chosen the designation homo bā in this paper. I use homo bā as opposed to the other possible term gei bā which has recently gained in currency among the gay subculture since homo bā is the designation that has been used most widely within the subculture to describe drinking places for male homosexuals from the early postwar period. Until recently, gei bā (‘gay bar’) has connoted a kind of ‘tourist bar’ where transgendered hosts serve a largely straight clientele, not unlike the drag-show bars in the US and elsewhere. The use of terminology within the 2-Chōme subculture is still somewhat chaotic and there is no uniform agreement on the use of terms such as ‘homo ’ and ‘gei ’ as self referents. Hence in this paper I shall speak of homosexual men in general as ‘gay (men)’ while leaving ‘homo bā’ in transliteration to stress that the phenomenon under investigation is quite different from the ‘gay bars’ of the west.
  5. This research is based on participatory observation and interviews. This has involved dozens of fieldwork trips. The interviews were conducted in two stages, firstly semi-structured formal interviews, followed by an indirect interview with a third party discussing the contents of the first interviews. Using a semi-structured interview sheet as a basis I interviewed participants about their various practices at the homo bā. There were four interviewees. Most material used in this investigation is sourced from one interviewee, a former mama named Naoki[5] (The mama is seen as the ‘representative’ of the bar. In most cases the mama actually owns the bar but sometimes he is employed as a manager by a behind-the-scenes owner). The use of information from the other three interviewees is strictly fragmentary.[6] The four interviewees were all in their late 20s at the time of the interviews which were given in the (northern) autumn of the year 2000, except in the case of Naoki, who was interviewed in the following summer of 2001. The recorded interviews were transcribed, the transcription being sent to the interviewees for proofreading and editing according to their wishes to ensure accuracy and protection of their privacy – I will herein refer to this as the ‘follow up’.
  6. On the completion of the formal interviews an indirect interview was conducted with the interviewee Ryō[7] discussing the content of the original four interviews. The aim of this indirect interview was to gain a third opinion from a person familiar with the community and practices of the interviewees so as to gain insight into the reasons behind their actions. We had found that even after the completion of the ‘follow up’ session, there were certain areas we still found hard to understand or were unsure about: Why did the interviewees act in the manner described? What was the reasoning behind their behaviour? Did they act out of clear intentions? To gain further insight and to clarify as much as we could, we discussed the methods of the original interviews with Ryō. At the time of the interview Ryō had already retired from work as a miseko (the miseko are staff at homo bā and they work under the mama’s direction as casual employees) some three years previously, however he had amassed eight years of experience in the mizu shōbai[8] and (in my opinion) had a very vivid and accurate recollection of what employment in the mizu shōbai entailed as well as the ability to articulate that experience in words. In that sense we felt it was highly appropriate to use an indirect interview in this case. Further, considering his experience, we felt that our interview with Ryō should not restrict him to an explanatory role but should allow him to speak about his own experiences and his own interpretation as much as possible. This indirect interview certainly clarified our original results considerably in many areas and we feel the two-stage interview method was successful in this respect.

    Characteristics of Japanese homo bā
  7. Employees in the bar industry in Japan consist of the mama and the miseko. While the mama may in some cases be called master or okāsan (mother), for the purposes of simplicity this paper will use the more general term mama as a combined reference. If one were to enter a homo bā one would see that the Japanese homo bā differs from gay bars in western cultures most noticeably in the following ways: there is no dance floor, nor any space that might serve that function. While in other countries this is typically a main fixture of most bars serving gay patrons, in Japan the dance floor is a fixture found only in a kurabu (club), there being a specific distinction between the function and utility of the homo bā and the kurabu. In addition most homo bā have karaoke machines for the use of customers, mama and miseko.
  8. This investigation looks only at ‘the gay town’, Shinjuku 2-Chōme (see Figures 1 & 2). The reason why this investigation looks at Shinjuku 2-Chōme (-Chōme literally means a small area of several blocks) is because the area has so many homo bā relative to any other area within Japan and accordingly it plays a distinct role as Japan's most representative gay area. The 200 square-meters of Shinjuku 2-Chōme was originally an akasen chitai , a designated heterosexual red-light district in the years before and after WWII. In 1958 when prostitution was prohibited (with the enforcement of the Prostitution Prevention Law of 1956) the prostitution houses disappeared.[9] The buildings thus emptied and were subsequently filled by bars serving homosexual patrons.[10] It is thought that there are currently around 200 bars in the area although this is strictly an estimate.

    Figure 1. Map of Tokyo and surrounds
    Figure 2. Map of Shinjuku and Surrounds

  9. In Tokyo, bars patronised by older gay men are typically situated in separate areas such as Ueno and Asakusa and are notably ‘less sophisticated’ and ‘more familiar’ than Shinjuku 2-Chōme.[11] While the number of bars in Shinjuku 2-Chōme is said to be the greatest for any designated gay area in the world, if one were to take the floor space of each bar into account, it may not be that large.
  10. The overall area of most bars is extremely small as pointed out by Ōtsuka Takashi[12] and
    others. The main seating generally consists of a counter which rarely seats ten or more. Box seating on sofas is typically absent, and where it is available, such seats will number merely one or two and there is no 'aisle' or space to move about at all. While the floor space is very small, the rent is high. If we compare this to the rent paid by the josō sunakku (male-female cross-dressing bars) in Shinjuku’s neighbouring Kabuki-Chō, one of Japan’s most famous mizu shōbai districts, we find that the Shinjuku 2-Chōme rate is clearly higher. Patrons of the josō sunakku informed me that to their knowledge the monthly rent those bars paid was 200,000 yen (around US$1,800) at the most. In Shinjuku 2-Chōme a homo bā of similar size often pays between 350,000 and 450,000 yen (between US$3,200 and US$4,100) despite the inferior location relative to Kabuki-Chō and the relatively low drink price charged each customer coming to the homo bā.[13]
    Figure 3. On the main street, Naka Dōri, photograph courtesy Katsuhiko Suganuma.

  11. The number and concentration of bars and the small floor space perhaps affects the demographics of the clientele patronising the homo bā. Patrons of the homo bā have the following characteristic consumption preferences. Firstly they tend to gather and differentiate according to their tastes and preferences in men. For example more portly men and the men who like portly men would gather exclusively at a debu-sen bā (chubby bar), slim men and the men who like slim men would go to a jani-sen bā (based around the bishōnen ‘beautiful youth’ look featured in the ‘Johnnies’[14] talent group). Tastes and preferences (in men) are expressed by the words sen and taipu. Sen is a Chinese-character term that means to specialise, taipu, derived from the English word ‘type’, is currently used also in the heterosexual community to describe preferences. ‘What’s your taipu?’ [What kind of men do you like?] is a phrase that often turns up in conversation amongst gay men in Japan.[15] Secondly there is a tendency for men to gather according to their age group, those of the same age go to the same homo bā and the mama and miseko at the bar are typically of the same age. This is distinct from Japan’s greater mizu shōbai where there is usually a distinct age difference between the hosutesu (hostess) and customers and this is one point in which homo bā clearly differ from other bars in the mizu shōbai industry.[16]
  12. The demographics of the homo bā have two distinct effects on sales practices. The first of these is the comparatively low unit price that can be charged to each customer. The second is the disadvantage of not being able to use age difference to attract clientele. As an example consider the general mizu shōbai, where age difference attracts high demand from older clientele who can be induced to buy expensive drinks and to ‘play the game’ of paying for the drinks of younger customers and hosutesu.[17] However in the case of homo bā where age difference is rare, this use of high demand in the drinks game does not really have a place.
  13. However I should add here that in regard to the rent and low unit price charged to the clientele, it is possible that there are other extenuating factors in the case of the homo bā in Ueno or Asakusa and others bars with clientele of varying ages. It should also be noted that in the case of homo bā outside of the major population centres there is less taipu division between customers.[18]

    Local Knowledge of Shinjuku 2-Chōme
  14. Before we begin this enthnographic study I will make here some notes on the ‘commonsense’ opinions relating to the homo bā as reinforced by conversation in the community. I will discuss and classify some subtle divisions between homo bā. Firstly, homo bā are not urisen bā (hustler bars for gay men). The homo bā do not harbor prostitutes. Such bars are known as urisen in Japan and in such bars selling drinks is a façade only, customers perusing an ‘album’ of photos of bōi[19] and choosing from them. The bōi and the customer can proceed to a back room or go to a hotel, they bathe together, and after the bōi washes the customer they proceed to sexual acts. Advertisements for such bars in gay magazines clearly stating ‘this is an urisen bar’ are rare. This service is more often advertised in gay magazines by the phrase bōi to no katarai [conversation with boys] or by mysteriously high prices that suggest additional services. Recently the term eskōto kurabu [escort club] is coming into greater use. In the heterosexual prostitution industry in addition to eskōto kurabu the term dēto kurabu [date club] is also used.
  15. Neither can the homo bā be termed a homo hosuto bā. The homo hosuto bā is a homosexual version of the hosuto club, which is a club staffed by male hosts for heterosexual female patrons where good-looking male hosts sit beside customers and drink with them. This is essentially the role-reversed version of the hosutesu club and kyabakura (from cabaret club)[20] which are characterised by an emphasis on the momentary enjoyment of quasi-romance at that time and place and in the context of the bar only. The homo hosuto, the homosexual version of that same concept, feature hosuto bōi (male hosts) who attend to patrons, sitting beside them and listening supportively to their conversation, often providing light bodily contact such as holding hands. However the homo hosuto bar differs from the urisen bā greatly in that the designation of a hosuto in the former does not entail sex with the host. What is emphasised at the homo hosuto is ren’ai [romance]. It should be made clear that in the case of the heterosexual hosutesu kurabu and hosuto kurabu while selling ‘romance’ they do in many cases indeed offer a ‘take out service’ (similar to dēto kurabu or eskōto kurabu) for patrons looking to pay for actual sex (while there is little evidence for this occuring in the homo hosuto establishments).
  16. Homo bā are not for cross-dressers, that is they are distinct from josō sunakku [cross-dressing bars]. In homo bā as they are today, employees do not cross-dress or wear makeup and neither do the customers. It is said that in the past employees wore drag and light makeup and while this is sometimes seen today it is only at employees’ birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or other ‘party’ occasions. In those cases female clothing is worn typically in imitation of female tarento (television idols) and does not amount to the same all-out parody as drag.
  17. There are two categories of male-female cross-dressing bars in Japan, which are distinguished by the self-identification of the involved parties: the josō sunakku, which caters to amateurs, and nyūhāfu bā, which employs professional transgenders. Josō sunakku consist of many male-to-female cross-dressers who have ‘amateur spirits’ and work without pay, with a few salaried staff. On the other hand, nyūhāfu bā employ only ‘professional’ (salaried) staff, and have no amateur cross-dressers among either the staff or the clientele.[21] Despite these distinctions, the most well known ‘gay bar’ among the mass media and the general public is that of the nyūhāfu. Josō sunakku and homo bā are virtually unknown. Since the nyūhāfu bā are often referred to as ‘gay bā’ in the mass media, many gay men do not like to use this designation in relation to their preferred drinking spots.
  18. A very different but important ‘folk category’ is the kankō bā which in its presentation and function it is almost identical to the homo bā. The employees are almost all gay, dress as men and have male hair cuts (i.e. do not cross dress), the decor, atmosphere and even the prices are the same. But the customers are almost all heterosexual men and women,[22] obviously a vast difference from the homo bā. Moreover, heterosexual patrons, even those who can distinguish between the nyūhāfu bā and the homo bā, rarely seem able to tell the difference between the kankō bā and the homo bā and for this reason many repeatedly patronise the kankō bā believing firmly that it is a ‘real’ homo bā. From time to time the media, in an effort to add variety to the nyūhāfu bā which they mistakenly believe to be a ‘mainstream’ gay bar, run stories on what they believe to be a hidden lair or, in other words, a ‘real homo bā.’[23] In most cases these are, in fact, kankō bā. Understandably, in the gay community, the category of the kankō bā is in most cases strictly separated from that of the homo bā.
  19. Finally, homo bā are also distinct from another category of bar, the shotto bā [a local watering hole], I will go into more details on this point in the following section.

    Typology of service in the homo bā
  20. A shotto bā is a regular drinking spot where one can purchase drinks cheaply and partake of them standing up – much like a Western bar or pub. Gay bars in the West tend to have certain distinctive characteristics, notably—drinking while standing, no host-type ‘attendance’ on patrons by employees, no cover charge and payment on a drink-by-drink basis (no billed payment on exit).[24] On the other hand, the Japanese homo bā typically feature seated drinking only, ‘attendance’ on patrons by employees, a cover charge and payment billed on departure. At the homo bā by-the-bottle purchases typically incur a ‘set charge’ corresponding to each type of bar which I will now explain. To begin with there are in fact just a few ‘shotto bā kei no homo bā’ [shotto bā type homo bā) in Shinjuku 2-Chōme, some of which have seating. Most 2-Chōme gay men refer to these as ‘for beginners’ or ‘for foreigners’. ‘Veteran’ 2-Chōme gay men do not recognise them as proper homo bā at all, but some ‘veterans’ do make use of them all the same when they are looking for privacy free from the ‘attendance’ of hosts. To explain more directly, after meeting a man on the internet that day and agreeing to ‘meet up for a drink,’ a veteran would typically choose such a bar. Basically the shotto bā type of homo bā is often used when entering a new relationship. Of course any friend who should happen to catch one in action at of those bars would most likely comment, ‘So what kind of shenanigans were you up to the other night – at that bar you would not normally be seen dead in?!’
  21. I will now provide a simple explanation of the various payment systems pertaining in homo bā. An understanding of this system (drinking by the bottle, by the shot or in a set payment) and the interactive practices between the employee and the customer involved is very important in understanding the purpose of this paper. For this reason I will give a brief ethnographic description of this payment system.
  22. Firstly, I will explain about drinking by the bottle versus drinking by the glass. There are basically two ways of drinking at the homo bā: ‘by the bottle’ or ‘by the shot’. Drinking by the bottle in Japan means that one can have a bottle kept (with one’s name on it) behind the bar for exclusive use anytime one comes to the bar. Drinking by the shot is, as the name implies, ordering and consuming drinks one by one from the selection at the bar. Whichever one of these two ways one chooses to drink, the first drink will have a seki ryō [seating charge] applied. It is well known history that in previous times one would order a drink and drink it standing as there were no seats, then some bars fitted seating and would lead customers to seats, charging them a seating charge. This then became the norm.
  23. The level of prices in homo bā compared to a regular shotto bā are a little higher. Having said that, they are not as expensive as other bars in the mizu shōbai industry, in fact they are relatively cheap. If purchasing a drink on a by the shot basis, one glass is approximately 700 yen (US$6). However the charge at the end of the night for that drink exceeds this fee significantly due to the addition of other charges. What is the justification and reasoning behind such charges?
  24. The most common charge in this situation is called the chāji dai [cover charge] and it is not just a seating charge as one also receives o-tōshi [a savoury side dish or ‘nibbles’] and the chāji dai also includes the sekkyaku ryō [host fee]. So in a bar where a single drink costs 700 yen and the chāji dai is 800 yen, finishing just one drink and calling for the check, one will find it totals 1,500 yen, finishing two drinks it will be 2,200 yen, three drinks 2,900 yen and so on.
  25. When drinking from one’s own bottle again one would find that the check will at least total about 1,500 yen. This applies even when one has paid for the bottle completely on a previous visit. So how is this charge justified? It is usually made up of a seating charge, o-tōshi dai, azukari dai [bottle-keeping charge], a wari-mono dai [a charge for any mixers used in drinks], kōri dai [ice charge] all put together as a setto ryōkin [suite charge]. While there are no details given of the breakdown of this setto ryōkin, subtractions are made for any services not received (for example if one drank without mixers the wari-mono dai would be subtracted) and an estimate made by a subtraction method. (I have given an example in Figure 4). Within this set charge the only charge that will become apparent before final payment will be the wari-mono dai (mixer charge) which is served by the carafe at a typical rate of 500 yen per pitcher. At most homo bā any additional orders of ice after the first serving do not attract a charge.

    Figure 4. The 'rational system' [shisutemu]

  26. The important point here is that this complex payment system is common to almost all homo bā. There are several reasons for this, the primary reason is to use pricing to make a clear division between the homo bā and the shotto homo bā, customers of the homo bā being charged the chāji dai and the prices of the same drinks at the homo bā being higher than at the shotto homo bā. There would need to be some justification for this price difference. As far as I can conclude from the interviews with mama and miseko, the justification for the higher prices at the homo bā seems to be in the hosts’ attendance on customers and the conversation and interaction they provide. For this reason the mama and miseko constantly work to a standard whereby, rather than simply chatting with regulars who drink by the bottle, they must do all they can to establish a relationship with new first-time customers who are typically drinking by the shot. In this way employees maintain constant and active interaction with all customers across the counter.
  27. As I showed above, the high cost of rent and low unit cost price charged to customers alongside the two different ways of drinking and the mutual interaction between staff and customers are all factors in Shinjuku 2-Chōme’s homo bā that are quite specialised, and as far as I can tell have no equivalent in Japan’s mizu shōbai industry, nor in bars outside of Japan. These factors provide the background to the endless game of sales boosting practices through the medium of bottles and shots, which I will now go on to explain further.

    Sales Boosting Practices - through the Medium of Bottles and Drinks by the Glass
  28. When the customer is seated they are given an o-shibori [a hot or cold hand towel] and asked what they would like to drink. Customers with a bottle held at the bar are asked ‘From the bottle?’ and if the answer is affirmative then ‘What mixer would you like?’ Shortly after the arrival of the first drink comes the o-tōshi and then the customer begins drinking.
  29. At times the customer may buy a miseko or mama (or several employees) a drink, which is referred to by the verb furumau. On the other hand the latter might pester the customer to buy them a drink, which is known as itadaki. In the homo bā it is considered bad manners to ask the customer for a drink before the customer has actually started drinking. This is in contrast to the kyabakura clubs where the customer and hostess often begin drinking together starting with ‘Kampai!’ at the first drink (at the customer’s expense).[25] Our indirect-interviewee Ryō relates ‘(Itadaki is) the customer’s returning of the sentiment of sekkyaku’ (sekkyaku being the employee’s attendance on the customer), and to ask for a drink having yet to attend to the customer would be highly inappropriate.
  30. When a homo bā employee is treated to a drink by the customer, a glass smaller than the customer’s glass and known as a rediisu gurasu [ladies glass] is provided, they are then ready for the kampai. When groups come to the homo bā and a bar employee is bought a drink from a bottle held by one member of that group, this drink is considered to be from the individual who owns that bottle, not from the customers as a group. This is because the employee’s drink is from a bottle that has already been paid for.
  31. Accordingly, when the glasses are first raised the mama and miseko use both hands to hold their glass and are sure not to raise the rim of their rediisu gurasu higher than the rim of the customer’s glass, instead ensuring that the rim of their glass comes to a point somewhere on the lower half of the customers’ glasses. This is known as o-kyaku-sama wo tateru[26] which means respecting the customer by placing them in a higher position than oneself and explains the lowered rediisu gurasu. We might also say that a lowered glass can be used as a rediisu gurasu.
  32. In the homo bā an inexperienced miseko cannot expect helpful advice or direction from the mama or more senior miseko. New miseko have to learn how to attend to guests by mite nusumu [watching and stealing].[27] If he makes many mistakes or cannot effectively attend to customers he may be disciplined by a mild scolding, but this is not done directly by the mama or senior miseko but by having a mama or miseko from a different homo bā pretend to be a forthright customer who then scolds the miseko when he makes a mistake. An example of such a scolding as reported by Ryō: ‘When it’s time for a kampai the customer would buy him a drink and for a kampai bring his glass down on top of that miseko’s rediisu gurasu with a chink and sardonically intone Kampai!’. The inferred meaning is ‘You’re really starting to annoy me’, some miseko react to such a subtle but effective put-down by bursting into tears.
  33. It is about time we considered the reason for this practice of furumau and itadaku of drinks. While there is perhaps no need to say it, the aim is to get the original bottle finished and a new one on the shelf. As I mentioned before, when drinking by the bottle, payment is made in advance, which means if customers slowly sip away at this bottle they have paid for then the result in terms of sales will be mediocre to say the least. This makes it essential for the homo bā to use all kinds of methods to bring the level in those bottles down as quickly as possible in what is known as akeru – a play on words as akeru can mean the verb to ‘empty’ and to ‘open’ a bottle. There are various techniques of akeru and I will give two examples here.
  34. The first is a well-known technique known as karaoke ikki [karaoke skoal]. Ikki means literally ‘in one hit’ and in drinking terms means to drain ones glass in one gulp. Karaoke ikki involves choosing a well known pop song or medley and passing the mike around the customers and employees who each sing one phrase from the screen, usually holding the microphone for just 2-4 seconds. A person who misses or cannot sing their phrase or the person who gets the last screen for that song has to drain their glass. As this game includes customers who would not know each other yet this amounts to an organised form of focused interaction. Karaoke ikki, while effectively making the whole bar a point of focused interaction, is also a very simple and easy business method. While customers wait for their turn they also look on with anticipation and great interest to see whether the other guests can actually sing. From the standpoint of the miseko and mama, they get their job done and the music does all the work for them, the subsequent skolling significantly reduces the level of the liquor remaining in the bottles. As a result this method is often seen as a puerile way of drinking that indicates the quality of the bar and some customers dislike (and avoid) shops that use karaoke ikki. As a result some bars avoid using this method.
  35. A second technique is to appeal to the customer’s sense of duty as a patron. Most homo bā regularly hold parties: ‘Christmas Parties’, ‘Anniversary Parties’ (the anniversary of the founding of the bar) and so on. At these parties the customers’ (unspoken) duty is to finish their old bottles and open new ones, the customers take the hint that the bars need to make drinks’ sales. What is most important to note here is that the bar employees provide ‘assistance’ to the customers in finishing the bottles with the minimum loss to the customer.
  36. For example the mama and miseko ‘even if somewhat woefully, water down their own itadaki drinks. In doing so they do get the customer to finish the bottle and open another before leaving, so the customer’s sense of duty is satisfied while the customer gets their money’s worth—relatively speaking—from their bottle’ (Ryō). The customer is well aware of what the staff expects from them. The mama and miseko do what they can to assist the customer in their role of fulfilling the expectations of the bar. There are in fact many layers of expected roles we can consider here. If a bottle kept behind the bar is emptied, a new one will be opened. Most bottles kept behind the bar at homo bā are of Japanese or Korean white spirits–the Korean spirit jinro as well as various Japanese shōchū [a potato-based spirit] by makers such as Kyōgetsu. The typical market rate for keeping a bottle at the bar is 4,000 to 5,000 (around US$40) per bottle. In comparison this cost is cheaper than other mizu shōbai establishments and just a little higher than at a regular sunakku bar in a rural Japanese town.
  37. Most of the itadaki drinks that mama and miseko get are from customers who are drinking by the bottle. They rarely ask a customer who is drinking by the glass ‘May I have an itadaki?’ but when they do they would rarely be turned down. The charge for an itadaki drink by the glass is the same as for a customer’s drink. As a result, for example, if a customer were to buy one drink and then leave they might pay say 1,500 yen. If we add an itadaki drink to that the price would come to about 2,200 yen.
  38. Why employees generally tend not to pester for itadaki from customers paying by the glass can be explained by a few reasons. One is that the by-the-drink customer is almost always a non-regular of the bar and may be there for the first or second time. They will probably be considering whether or not to come back to the bar, so mama and miseko would hold back from partaking of itadaki due to the large additional costs to this customer.
  39. However, inducing the bottle-drinking customer to provide itadaki is ‘merely a principle.’ Naoki relates his time as a charismatic miseko who was a very bold salesperson with customers, making them spend money by ‘making them drink, and drinking with them’ which is essentially the point of his job. In Shinjuku 2-Chōme such miseko are revered and respected for defying any sense of self preservation and being just a little more than a bit ‘kichigai’ [crazy] in getting their job done. I will give a short example of the aggressive selling methods Naoki would use on by-the-glass customers to get a drink:
      I had to be kichigai. And man I was aggressive. ‘I’m thirsty !’ and before you knew it the customer’s bottle would be empty – it was a given. It used to be that the bottle was for the customer, eh. But not with me. All those customers drinking up at the counter, sitting there in a line drinking. I’d be damned if my rediisu gurasu was not in front of each one of ‘em. I’d be like ‘Hey why isn’t everyone shouting me drinks? What do you think this is? You’re supposed to buy me drinks!’ That was the attitude I had when I was working. I used to get sick of drinking mixed drinks from the bottle. I’d just say straight to the nearest customer ‘Hell I got a thirst!’ The customer would be like ‘Hey don’t be fussy just have another mixer from my bottle’. I’d say ‘Nah, none of that. I want a beer!’ He’d say ‘I said drink from the bottle!’ an’ I’d go ‘Right then, beer it is, thanks for that, cheers!’ That was the way I used to drink (laugh).

  40. Getting drinks by the glass out of bottle-drinking customers in this way would be impossible without first establishing congenial terms. To begin with (as I explained above) you could only get away with such sales methods with customers you were sure had an inkling of the bar’s needs in terms of sales. Furthermore, mama or miseko saying ‘I think I’ll just get myself a shot’ is in general very rare. With customers drinking ocha-wari (spirits mixed with tea – a cheap option) they might use a more subtle phrase like ‘I feel like drinking something sweet’ (i.e. not ocha-wari) or in summer they might directly say ‘I’d love a beer’. The meaning behind this, i.e. ‘let me have a drink by the glass for our sales,’ is behind the pestering. However, a customer not comprehending the request and answering ‘I feel like drinking something sweet’ with ‘Right then, I’ll order a pitcher of juice next!’ will earn him the epithet of ‘a customer who doesn’t understand sales’.
  41. This irregular practice of the ‘shouting’ of shots, when coming from the customer’s initiative is known as hairyo no akashi [proof of concern]. For example, a customer considers a bar he has not been to of late and decides it’s about time to drop in. Come the evening he finds that he has got time to drop in but for only an hour. In this case the customer decides it is appropriate to order drinks by the glass for himself and for the employees rather than order from the bottle he has behind the bar. As a drink by the glass costs 500 to 800 yen, by ‘shouting’ the mama and miseko, he will provide the bar with more profits. By comparison if there were the mama and two miseko at the bar, to shout them all a drink from the bottle (presuming one has already got the bottle open behind the bar) would cost only the setto ryō. If the setto ryō was 1,500 yen, then the customer pays only 1,500 yen. If the customer shouts them all drinks by the glass then he will pay 3,200 yen for the four drinks plus a chāji dai of 800 yen. The difference is considerable. What the customer is saying by buying this round of drinks is ‘I am doing my bit to boost your sales’ which is seen as an expression of hairyo no akashi.
  42. However such generosity does not necessarily always take this meaning. If we look at it the other way around we could re-interpret the situation from another customer’s point of view–‘I was made to drink only on principle of duty, expressing that duty with money’ (Ryō) which is something that the employee receiving the drink must also be mindful of. There is a consensus among the miseko that such expressions of duty are something that should not be exploited in day-to-day drinking. Further, the practice of ‘shouting’ drinks by the glass is uncommon between customers and the mama and miseko, but quite common when mama and miseko visit another bar. One mama relates that the benefactor ‘is typically a person related to the bar and the drinking style is very quick’.
  43. Another thing to notice in the mutual practices of the ‘shouting’ of drinks and the bar staff’s adaptation to that, is in some cases this adaptation is taken to a new level in terms of making business gains. Ryō relates how one time he made himself a drink: ‘I think I’ll mix this one with hot mineral water’ he said and then he set about using regular tapwater, heated in the microwave, cheekily chiming ‘How sweet this is!’ This is an example of the ‘sweet shot’ in which the bar staff use nagareta botoru (literally ‘poured out bottles’[28] referring to abandoned customer bottles behind the bar that are poured to make drinks by the glass). In doing so the material cost is basically zero but the drink appears at full cost on the dempyō (the bill) much to the delight of the mama who will praise the bar staff for this saving. Nagging the customer with ‘I want to drink something sweet’ and then having a mineral water mixer can be said to be oxymoronic but some miseko go further and use tapwater, which is such an absurd double deception that the customer simply finds it amusing rather than offensive. That a customer might become angry and protest the ‘fraud’ is literally unheard of in the industry as the customer at no time beforehand protests or overtly forbids staff from taking the liberty of serving drinks by the glass without permission and the ambiguity is space for the miseko or mama to play with. The serving of this drink, regardless of what is thought at the time, honestly exposes the bar’s dire needs as a business and the customers generally do their bit to answer those needs. Moreover, as far as the customer is concerned it is a miseko’s lot to drink tapwater.
  44. Another way a customer might show hairyo no akashi [proof of concern] is to order a drink by the glass for the first drink and then ordering drinks from the bottle thereafter. This method is distinctive in that it involves no buying of drinks for the mama and miseko and would be used when the customer is markedly younger than the mama or miseko, as shouting drinks in this case would seem impudent and presumptuous and would be disconcerting for staff and other customers in the bar. Changing from drinking by the glass to the bottle, being a limited (rather than ongoing) gesture, is at the most a token or symbolic expression of hairyo [concern] for the bar’s business welfare but is far simpler and more manageable financially (than shouting all the employees) when the bill arrives at the end of the night.
  45. Looking at the layout of the dempyō [bill] one can see that the possibility of ‘converting from drinking by the glass to drinking by the bottle’ is predicted by the bar’s payment system (Figure 5).
    Figure 5. Filling out the dempyō (example)

  46. This method of tabulating the dempyō is of great interest. It is a reproduction of one of Ryo’s dempyō, italicised characters representing the handwriting of the mama and the miseko. Figure 5(a) shows the final dempyō where a customer (herein Customer A) has had one Moscow Mule (by the glass) and then called for the bill. The ‘S’ written in italics (i.e. handwritten) indicates the chāji dai for a drink bought by the glass (S infers shotto). So Customer A’s bill will be charged 800 yen chāji dai for his drink by the glass, plus 800 yen for the drink itself, totaling 1,500 yen. Here you will notice that Ryō did not write each unit price (value) as it is not really necessary to this simple calculation.
  47. Turning to Figure 5(b) this is the same order as above except that this is the dempyō before the customer has called for the bill so it has not been totaled. If Customer A at this point ceases to drink by the glass and then begins to drink from the bottle he has kept behind the bar, then Ryō will supplement the S with 'et' to make Set as shown in Figure 5(c) so the S that became the shotto chāji dai in Figure 5(a) has been edited to Set to indicate the application of the botoru setto ryōkin (the set charge for drinks from one’s own bottle). So if there are no additional mixers used and the bottle is not finished, then when Customer A calls for the bill the total is as shown in Figure 5(c): (the botoru setto ryōkin of 1 = 1,500 yen) + (Moscow Mule of 1 = 700 yen) totaling 2,200 yen. While the Moscow Mule originally was incurring a chāji dai, with the changeover to drinks from the bottle this chāji dai was cancelled (replaced with the setto dai normally incurred from drinks from the bottle) and the Moscow Mule formerly counted as a drink from the glass (incurring both the charge for the drink and a chāji dai), is here altered to an additional single drink purchase.
  48. What we can understand from this, as Ryō explains, is that the chāji dai for a drink from the glass (written as S), can be altered by the customer changing over to ordering drinks from the bottle to a setto ryōkin charge (written as Set). The bar is able to do that because the way the dempyō is originally tabulated allows for that adaptation: (from S —> to Set).

    Discussion and Conclusion
  49. In the homo bā of Shinjuku 2-Chōme in Tokyo, Japan, when a customer enters the establishment their dempyō begins with an approximately 1,500 yen setto ryōkin. If the bottles are finished or opened there will be no sudden jumps in the final bill. This characteristic of homo bā keeps the unit cost price for customers low. For this reason we can clearly see that sales boosting practices using bottles and drinks by the glass have been established. For example we can consider the practice of karaoke ikki, which, as I explained above, speeds up the consumption of the bottles behind the bar. A second example would be the interactive mutual practice we see at parties at the homo bā where the customers do their best to finish their bottle and start a new one and the bar employees assist the customer ‘fulfilling their duty’ by watering down their own drinks. The above are sales boosting practices in the case of drinking from the bottle.
  50. Between bar employees and regular customers who they have known for a while, sales boosting practices using by-the-glass sales are not uncommon. One example is the miseko pestering for a drink by the glass when he is aware that the customer has a bottle behind the bar. Another example is when the customer who (due to a time restriction or other reason) cannot remain long in the bar recognises the bar’s needs and ignores his own bottle sitting on the shelf, instead buying drinks by the glass for himself and employees of the bar. A third example is (typically in the case of younger patrons) demonstrating one’s token ‘proof of concern’ about the bar’s welfare by having one drink by the glass before settling in to drink from one’s own bottle behind the bar, to which bar employees adapt by making a flexible dempyō system whereby they can adjust the tabulation and price calculation if and when the customer changes their mind.
  51. We can draw a further interesting conclusion from this study to the effect that while the homo bā can be said to draw together men on the basis of their sexuality (homosexuality) and more specifically on the basis of their preferences in men (the debusen bā, the janiizu bā), the everyday focal practices in the homo bā are not concerned with sexuality at all. What the customers are focussed on is the game of sales boosting via the medium of bottles and drinks by the glass which in reality has very little to do with sexuality.
  52. The homo bā was once a place of sexual expression. This is well known and described in the popular press, hentai [perverse] magazines, books and specialist journals of the early postwar period.[29] In these early postwar articles there are strong implications that the staff in the bars were engaging in prostitution with customers and this suggests that the early post-war homo bā had an uri sen role, much more so than the homo bā of the present. So when did this desexualisation take place? Currently, despite what I have described above, it cannot be said that there is absolutely no sexuality-based engagement in the homo bā. Amidst the games of sales boosting, romantic relationships do occur between customers and employees. Exploring that realm is beyond the scope of this report and I hope to investigate and report on these occurrences in my next study of Shinjuku 2-Chōme. In the desexualised space of the homo bā, displays of affection for a specific person are necessarily subtle and far from easy to discern. Sometimes these expressions of affection are presented in the form of word play, anecdote or performance of some kind. The hegemonic game in these bars is the drinks and sales game, which these men must play for various reasons and creating an intimate relationship in the resulting desexualised space is in many ways akin to trying to clear a high hurdle in a cramped space. Nonetheless, in this apparently limiting environment of the homo bā with its hegemonic ‘drinks and sales’ game, gay men can recognise their strengths, their worth and their ability to ‘play the game’ which then reflects on their own hidden, mostly unspoken game that they play out in the wings, that of love.


    [1] M, ‘Danshoku’ (Male homosexuality), Amatoria, November 1952, p. 83.

    [2] This applies also to research on sunakku (‘snacks’, a kind of small pub for heterosexual persons); little work exists other than that by Masatoshi Takada, see Sakaba no shakaigaku [The sociology of pubs], Kyoto: PHP Research Institute, 1983; and Masatoshi Takada, ‘Sakaba no shakaigaku’ [The sociology of pubs], in Gengo seikatsu [Linguistic of daily life] 421, Tokyo: Chikumashobō Publishing, 1986, pp. 18-26.

    [3] Hideki Sunagawa, ‘Shinjuku Ni-Chōme ga shōsha suru iseiai shakai’ (Heterosexual society as disclosed by Shinjuku 2-Chome), in Sei no bunmyaku: Kurashi no jinruigaku 4 [Contexts of sexualities: Series of cultural anthropology of life vol. 4], ed. Matsuzono Makio, Tokyo: Yūzan-Kaku Publishing, 2003, pp. 196-225. In addition, Noriaki Fushimi has published some historical research into the early postwar bars in the gay magazine, Badi. Fushimi Noriaki, ‘Fushimi Noriaki no gei no kōkogaku: Okama no rekishi wo hori-okose!’ [Fushimi Noriaki’s archaeology of gay culture: Unearthing the history of the homosexual!], from Badi (Gay bar Edition [1]), February 1997, pp. 88-89; Badi (Gay bar Edition [2]), May 1997, pp. 144-46; Badi (Gay bar Edition [3]), June 1997, pp. 78-80; see also Fushimi Noriaki, Gei toiu ‘keiken’ [The ‘experience’ of being gay], Tokyo: Pot Publishing, 2002, pp. 193-301.

    [4] Sunagawa ‘Shinjuku Ni-Chōme ga shōsha suru iseiai shakai,’ p. 218.

    [5] An assumed name, aged 33 years at the time of interview.

    [6] Hiroyuki Taniguchi and this writer have presented the contents of these interviews in more detail in the form of life histories, Hitoshi Ishida and Hiroyuki Taniguchi, ‘Homo bā ni jūji suru wakamono tachi’ [The practices of young men in homo bā], in Kawaru wakamono to shokugyō sekai, [The changing relationship between young people and work: The sociology of transition], ed. Masami Yajima and Hiroaki Mimitsuka, Tokyo: Gakubunsha Publishing, 2001, pp. 167-81.

    [7] Age 26 at the time and former miseko host.

    [8] The mizu shōbai is a category of bar work whereby the worker serves drinks to the customer in a participatory way – usually ‘drinking with’ the customer.

    [9] Subsequently, some shops became ryokan (small traditional hotel), offices or general bars but 2-Chōme, being quite far from Shinjuku Station, did not thrive and the whole area became a commercial black hole. Ryū Fujita said that Toden Dōri street lay like a river between Shinjuku 3-Chōme (easily accessible from the station) and the dark and dead 2-Chōme on the far side, Ryū Fujita, ‘"2-Chōme" wa kōshite shutsugen shita’ [The Reason why ‘2-Chōme’ emerged], Barazoku, February 1997, pp. 62-63, p. 63.

    [10] Kentaro Minamishima, ‘Gei bijinesushi’ [the Gay business history],’ Barazoku, December 1997, pp. 322-28, p. 321.

    [11] In an article from 1976 it was stated that ‘long ago’ there had been somewhere around 50 homo bā in Asakusa which, by the time of the study, had been reduced to some 14 establishments, the remainder being replaced by some 40 josō bars. See Henshūbu, ‘Asakusa homobā gaido’ [A guide to Asakusa male homosexual bars], in Barazoku, February 1976, p. 131.). In a 1955 study, Asakusa had 8 homo bā (XYZ, ‘Nanshoku kissaten: Sakaba no Tōkyō chizu’ [Homosexual cafés: a map of bars in Tokyo], Fūzoku kagaku, February 1955, p. 73. in pp. 72-8.), hence, homo bā in Asakusa seemed to have increased and then decreased between the two decades. Furthermore by that time there were the beginnings of the current trend of regional differences between bars and their clientele, Shinjuku was becoming a place for the young and fashionable, and Ueno was servicing the less youthful set. What was then considered to be 'the Shinjuku style [bar]’ was ‘a heavy dark door from behind which music and a singers’ voices would reverberate, the patrons being young, green, gaudy, haughty and camp.’ See Henshūbu, Asakusa homobā gaido, p. 131.

    [12] Takashi Ōtsuka, Ni-chōme kara uroko: Shinjuku gei-sutoriito zakkichō [Scales from 2-Chōme: Shinjuku gaystreet notebook], Tokyo: Shōeisha Publishing, 1995, p. 10.

    [13] The managers of homo bā ‘usually do it pretty tough’. One interviewee told me on the express condition of anonymity that when there is only one miseko working on a given night and if the bar pulls 30,000 yen on that night this is called ‘ton-ton’ meaning keeping the balance sheet just out of the red. This 30,000 yen covers rent, food stock and the wages for the miseko but not for the mama. Rent takes the largest slice of between 10,000 to 15,000 per day. The next is the miseko’s wages at about 10,000 (note that this works out about 900-1,500 yen per hour which is no better than a typical Japanese unskilled job and that there is no tip system). The money the miseko receives is provided directly by the bar, and where it is paid at the end of the night, when other costs are included, there will be nothing left. At that rate the shop would soon fall into the red. On week days where the bar might make only a few thousand yen a night, whether they can stay in business much longer becomes a constant concern. Regular customers of the homo bā do not know the details of the bars finances but they would be aware of the precarious existence of the bar they frequent and the stress it must cause the mama to try to keep the bar afloat.

    [14] Janiizu [‘Johnnies’] is a famous show business production company specialising in beautiful young men from about 15 to 20 years old.

    [15] The separation of bars according to customers' preferences (-sen) was in practice in Ueno only as of 1974. See F. and Osamu Ono, ‘Ueno: Shitamachi no bifū’ [Ueno has a good style of the old downtown], in Barazoku, October 1974, pp.20-29, p. 29. Ono goes to pains to describe the working terminology of debusen, for example. From this we can deduce that at that time such slang (-sen) was not yet known by many in the gay community but at the same time was certainly used by some. For instance, the slang fuke-sen, a preference for older men, emarged around the middle of the 1950s in the homoerotic coterie magazine ADONIS and the hentai magazine Amatoria, see Kazuhiko Kabiya, ‘Gei bā no seitai: Ueno Asakusa kaiwai’ [The ecology of male homosexual bars: around Ueno and Asakusa], in Amatoria, August 1955, pp. 146-55, p. 151; Sakon Kikutei ‘Ruri no hateni’ [To a vagrant end], in ADONIS, May 1954, pp. 34-48, p. 36.

    [16] See for instance, Tomoko Kawabata, ‘Shirōto hosutesu kara mita "onna-rashisa" no wana [Traps of ‘femininity’ seen from an amateur hostess perspective],’ in Sekushuaritii wo megutte: Josei to shinri 2 [Involving sexualities: Series of women and psychology vol. 2], Tokyo: Shinsui-sha Publishing, 1998, pp. 161-94, pp. 166-68.

    [17] The hosutesu – derived from ‘hostess’ – are young women paid to talk and usually to drink with customers.

    [18] Erick Laurent, ‘Gendai no Nihon bunka ni okeru dansei dōseiai’ [Homosexual men in modern Japanese culture], in The Bulletin of Gifu Keizai University 35(3), Gifu: Gifu Keizai University, 2002, pp. 65-89, p. 71.

    [19] The term bōi is best understood as 'young man'. Typically young men working as urisen are 20 and older, quitting at age 30 being common. Consumption of alcohol determines this as the drinking age in Japan is from 20. However there are exceptions where young men of 18 or 19 are ambitious enough to lie about their age and employers conveniently make no further enquiries into this. It should be noted here that there is no clear legal age of consent for sex with males in Japan. Sexual relations with any person below the age of 13 is illegal and effectively treated as assault of a minor. There are ordinances by prefecture that do specify age/s of consent sometimes differing for male and female, and these ordinances vary greatly.

    [20] On hosutesu club and kyabakura see David Morley, Pictures from the Water Trade, Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1985, trans. into Japanese by Hisashi Yokota as Mizu shōbai karano nagame, Tokyo: Simul Publishing, 1987; Anne Allison, Nightwork : Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1994; Saori Matsuda, ‘Ginza hosutesu kurabu no sekai: josei-tachi to sābisu no minzokushi-teki kijutsu wo chūshin toshite’ [The world of Ginza hostess clubs: An ethnographic account of women and service], in Seikatsu-Gaku Ronsō [Journal of Lifeology] 8, Tokyo: Japan Lifeology: 2003, pp. 78-90; Saori Matsuda, ‘Hosutesu no shigoto no Shūtoku to nakama shūdan ni kansuru ichikōsatsu’ [Observations of Group Fellowship in the Appreticeship of the Hostess], in Gender Studies 6, Nagoya: the Tōkai Foundation of Gender Studies, 2003, pp. 17-28; On hosto kurabu see Takeyama Akiko, ‘Commodified Romance in a Tokyo Host Club’ in Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan, ed. Mark McLelland and Romit Dasgupta, London, New York: Routledge, 2005, pp. 200-15.

    [21] Junko Mitsuhashi, ‘Gendai Nihon no toransujendā sekai: Tokyo Shinjuku no josō komyūnit? wo chūshin ni [Transgender world in contemporary Japan: Male-to-female cross-dressers’ community in Shinjuku], in The Annual Bulletin of the Institute of Social Sciences 7, Tokyo: Chuo University, 2003, pp. 85-115, trans. into English by Kazumi Hasegawa, independent offprint, Tokyo: the Institute of Social Sciences of Chuo University, 2004, pp. 1-59, pp. 24-30.

    [22] Heterosexual men and/or women in Tokyo often go to kankō bā in order to drink in a ‘strange and funny’ place. This is not an unusual occurence.

    [23] For instance, ‘Anata no shiranai diipu na sekai: ‘shō pabu’ ‘gei bā’ ‘irasshaimahō’ monogatari [A deep world which you don’t know: stories in ‘shō pabu’ and ‘gei bā’ saying ‘welcome’] in Josei Sebun, 16 March, 2000, pp. 189-91.

    [24] This is a cash up-front payment system similar to that of most pubs and bars in the West. In Japan this payment system is notable in that it is an exception (in most bars people pay before leaving the establishment rather than drink by drink). In a gay magazine article, a writer gave an account of such establishments in Osaka 1983 and noted ‘This makes for an American feel as soon as you walk in!’ See Daisuke Tadokoro, ‘Kibun wa mō American! [This makes for an American feel as soon as you walk in!], in Barazoku, October 1983, pp. 213-15, p. 213.

    [25] ‘Hostesses greet customers with ‘Irasshaimase [welcome] my name is (__)’, prepare a drink for the customer (if the customer is not a regular they establish what the customer would like to drink), announce ‘Itadakimasu’ [I greatfully partake] and make themselves a drink, typically one from the customer’s bottle mixed with water. Then they repeat the welcome ‘Irasshaimase, itadakimasu. My name is (__)’ and then kampai with the customer;’ from Saori Matsuda, ‘Kanjō rōdō no shakaigaku teki kenkyū hosutesu rōdō wo jirei to suru san'yo kansatsu oyobi intabyū’ [Sociological enquiry into emotional works: A qualitative analysis of actual hostess work based on observation and interviews] in Chuo University Sociology 10, Tokyo: Chuo University, 2001, pp. 201-38, p. 209.

    [26] Naoyuki Yamamoto, Kyabakura no gengogaku [The linguistics of the kyabakura], Tokyo: Ōesu Publishing, 2000, pp. 167-68. Although the reference is to the kyabakura’s kampai, the same may be said of homo bā.

    [27] Hitoshi Ishida, ‘Sekkyaku butai mama miseko: Shōkūkan toshite no “homobā” [Attendance, stagecraft, mama and miseko: The homo bā as a business space], in Sociology Today 12, Tokyo: Ochanomizu Sociology Research Group, 2002, pp. 56-71, pp. 59-62; Saori Matsuda ‘Kenkyū nōto: Sābisu-gyō ni jūji suru josei no "shigoto nakama"’ [A research note: ‘Colleague’ relationships among women in the service sector], in Soshioroji [Sociology] vol. 50, no. 1, (2005):87-104, p. 93.

    [28] Bottles are kept for customers behind the bar on the condition that the customer comes back regularly. If the customer does not return within a specified timeframe then they relinquish their ‘proprietary lease’ of space behind the bar and the bottle becomes a nagareta botoru, which literally means the liquor flows and indeed in most cases it is poured down the drain. Sometimes it is used to make shot drinks for other customers.

    [29] For example, regarding mass magazines, ‘Hanazakari Shōwa Genroku kagema chaya’ [Genroku kagema chaya with blossoms in the Showa-era), in Shukan Yomiuri 15, April 1972, pp. 54-57, p. 54; on hentai magazines, Kazuhiko Kabiya, ‘Gei bā no seitai: Shinjuku kaiwai’ [The ecology of male homosexual bars: around Shinjuku], in Amatoria, June 1955, pp. 69-74, p. 72; regarding books, Tomita Eizō, Gei [Gay], Tokyo: Tokyo Shobo Publishing, 1958; Ken Tōgō Inka shokubustu gun [Shadow vegetation], Hōbun Shobo Publishing, 1966; and on specialist journals, The Ministry of Justice, Hikō shōnen no dōseiai kōdō ni kansuru seishin igakuteki kōsatsu Kyōsei shiryō no. 19 [A psychiatry study on homosexual behavior among juvenile delinquents A report for reform, no. 19], Tokyo: Hōmusho Kyōseikyoku [the Reform Agency of the Ministry of Justice], 1957, pp. 43-44.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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