Mizu-shobai, a night entertainment business that is unique to Japan

Aug 24, 2021

Mizu-shobai, which is written as 水商売 in Japanese, is a traditional word for the night entertainment business in Japan. The term mizu-shobai, which literally means water business, was first used during the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1878) for bathhouses offering sexual pleasure services, but these days, the term refers to night entertainment businesses in Japan like host and hostess clubs, snack bars, and cabarets.

In this feature, we’ll talk about mizu-shobai in detail to help you understand it even more.


1. What you need to know about mizu-shobai

Mizu-shobai is a night entertainment business that is unique to Japan; you rarely find it outside Japan, and if there are any, usually they are established to entertain Japanese expats there. Mizu-shobai offers alcohol and companionship, and usually, it caters to men, and sometimes women, seeking drinks and attentive conversations with the opposite sex.

Mizu-shobai sells dreams to its customers by providing a sense of companionship through its services. Some of the most famous mizu-shobai establishments are host and hostess clubs.

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2. Host and hostess clubs

Host and hostess clubs are nightclubs in Japan. These places allow men and women to have drinks while having flirtatious conversations with the opposite sex. Female customers pay for male company at the host clubs, and male customers pay for female company at the hostess clubs.

Hosts and hostesses not only sit and drink with the customers, but they also light cigarettes, talk flirtatiously, and sing karaoke to entertain their customers. Hosts and hostesses do not provide any services that will sexually pleasure their customers; the service only involves alcohol and good conversations.

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3. Places where you can find mizu-shobai establishments

Mizu-shobai establishments can be found in every red-light district in Japan, including Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Minami and Kita-shinchi in Osaka, Nakasu in Fukuoka, and Susukino in Hokkaido.

Kabukicho is in Shinjuku, Tokyo. This area is known as the biggest red-light district in Japan and Asia. Minami and Kita-shinchi are red-light districts in Osaka, and these areas are known as the biggest red-light districts in Western Japan. Nakasu is a red-light district in Hakata, Fukuoka, and this area is known as the biggest red-light district in Southern Japan. Susukino is a red-light district in Hokkaido, and this area is known as the biggest red-light district in Northern Japan.

These are the places you should visit if you want to drink at host or hostess clubs, which are unique to Japan.

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4. Mizu-shobai isn’t cheap

You need to keep in mind that mizu-shobai isn’t cheap; host and hostess clubs are expensive in general, and it’s only cheap when you visit them for the first time.

They will charge you from 500 to 3,000 yen for 1 or 2 hours all-you-can-drink when you visit the clubs for the first time, but after that first visit, they will charge you from 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen just for the table, and you need to purchase drinks for yourself, and for the hosts or hostesses that join you as a company.

You will pay around 2,000 yen for 2 cans of beer, and at least 10,000 yen for a bottle of shochu (Japanese liquor). The price of drinks sold at host and hostess clubs is usually 10 times more expensive than the market price.

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