Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Glamatic Fairy



A few months ago I saw a TV segment in which two guys were investigating little secrets about certain food products. One example was some type of crispy ring-shaped snacks, and how one person found a ring in the shape of "Ojisan". In another case, a girl found a single star-shaped mint in her case of mints, which are usually circle-shaped. Another case featured a rare, trumpet-playing Koala printed on the popular chocolate-filled Koala crackers.

This is what I thought of when I uncovered this piece of Glamatic gum yesterday. As I unwrapped the piece, I noticed one side was sticking lightly to the wrapper. I didn't think much of it until I saw a white spot...in the shape of a fairy.

It's not a coincidence. Apparently some companies do this on purpose, though I'm not sure why. I think some people take it as a sign of good luck. This was from one of the many packs of gum that I won at the game center a few months back, so my chances of getting a special piece of gum like this was greater than if I had just one pack.

I wonder what I should do with it. Sugar doesn't really spoil, so I guess I can just hold on to it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Highlights

I've been swamped with stuff.

What have I done since my last post?

-Went to class.
-Did homework.
-Um...went to class.
-Hung out.
-Went shopping.
-Went to class.
-Had しゃぶしゃぶ for Kellie's and Jaydeb's birthdays.
-Did karaoke for a total of about five hours with the dorm manager and some dormmates.
-Did homework.
-Went to class.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wonderful night in Yokohama ♫

This was the reason I couldn't be sad about my host quitting.

I waited four years to visit Yokohama during the nighttime and take better pictures than I did on my very first visit. And also to ride the ferris wheel. It was great :)







This is my favorite. I love the reflection of the lights in the water:



These photos were all taken from inside one of the ferris wheel cars:












Friday, April 10, 2009

Where do I go from here?

(I know this is long, and you're probably going to think I'm being ridiculous, but just bear with me. I'm trying to be as detailed as possible. It's my blog, after all.)

Once upon a time, I was a customer at a host club.

When I came to Japan last September, I never thought I'd set foot in a host club. I had no interest in such a thing. But one day, something sparked my curiosity. Perhaps it was the opportunity to research something that most people wouldn't want to mess with. To figure out why I wasn't like these women, wanting to spend hundreds of dollars for fake love and affection.

Observing hosts turned into visiting a host club, and a single visit to the club turned into four more visits, my most recent one being Thursday. That night was going to be my last one for a while, since classes are going to start up on Monday.

And now that visit (at least to that particular shop) is probably my last one.

My host is quitting this month.

I can't say it was like he was breaking up with me. Because I'm sure breaking up is many times worse. But I was still upset. He never said a single thing about quitting even once, not when I told him on Monday that I was visiting him, not when we met while he was on 'catch' duty on Wednesday, not when I spent that entire hour with him at the club on Thursday, or even when we said our goodbyes after that hour.

I was really happy after that night, because it had been awhile since I saw him. He was starting to e-mail me less frequently, and his messages were getting somewhat short and meaningless. He said he had been really busy with his job at the company, which is his primary job (he only works as a host two nights a week). I was starting to lose motivation to go to the club, wondering if I would get bored with him eventually, but decided that I would go to the club once more before the vacation was over. And when I got there, I was glad that I went, as usual. We made a lot of small talk, drank straight tea and had french fries. Usually I would go to the club somewhat early in the evening, like 5 or 6, but this time I arrived there at around 10 p.m., because I wanted to see what it was like being a little more crowded. Unlike the other nights, I didn't talk to the other hosts that came to the table--in fact, only one came (whom I had met back in January) and stayed for about 15 minutes. The rest of my hour was just me and my host.

When we were talking, something about him seemed different, but I couldn't figure out what it was. Actually, I had sensed something changing ever since he contacted me the day of the live I went to in late March. I don't know how I sensed it, and I couldn't figure out what it was. But after I left the club on Thursday night I was happy again. I really like my host, not as a boyfriend type or just because he gives me attention or just because he's a host. I'm not sure what it is but I just got along with him well. He wasn't the best or most flirtatious or even the most good-looking, but I liked him.

Yesterday I went out to Yokosuka and Yokohama with Kenisha. We were going on base so Kenisha could do some grocery shopping, and then to Yokohama to take pictures. I was still in a bit of a daze from the fun I had with my host. I was wondering when I would visit again, when he was going to e-mail me, etc. And then that's when I found out that evening. He sent me an e-mail thanking me for yesterday and that he had something he had to say.

Now, the last time he told me he "had something he wanted to tell me," it was just him being silly, trying to trick me into thinking he was going to confess his love to me, when actually he just wanted to tell me about the discount for the Valentine's Day event. But this time, I knew it was something not along the lines of anything humorous, and that it was a little more serious. Thanks to my learning the context of Japanese phrases as well as the uses of various cell phone 'emoji' (emoticons), I could tell this was not a joke, and I knew exactly what he was going to say. I wrote a reply telling him I had fun the night before and asked him what it was he needed to tell me. After sending my reply, I told Kenisha, who was looking for directions to the BOOK-OFF in Yokohama, "I bet he's quitting," by which I was semi-serious. But I was right after all.

We exchanged a few more messages that night, with him citing that he had been so busy that he felt he had no choice but to quit hosting, and that this month would probably be it. I told him that if he quit, I wasn't going to the shop anymore. And I absolutely meant that. I meant it from the very beginning: I told myself that he is the only reason I go to the host club, and that if he ever left, I wouldn't want to go back there. He wasn't just a host or someone with whom to flirt, he was someone to talk to, someone with whom I shared common interests, and someone who wasn't going to be fake and over-the-top in order to get in my wallet (as opposed to pants, I guess).

I was a little distraught over the news, but just ask Kenisha--I didn't let that ruin my night. In fact, I'd have to try really hard to feel absolutely depressed and start bursting into tears. I made jokes with her about all this too. "He's breaking up with me!!! And by e-mail!!! Why would he do this to me?!?!" and saying how I wasn't going to be ready for another host yet, and pointing out all these constant reminders of him. I was laughing because in my e-mail I wanted to ask him, "Can we still be friends?" Instead I asked if he and I can still speak to each other, which he said was absolutely fine. I was hoping he wasn't going to just cut me off just because I was a customer. Even so, I don't know how sincere he was, and if we'd ever speak or meet again. That's what usually happens...I lose contact with people with whom I really wanted to be friends.

I'm still a bit confused as to why he didn't tell me earlier, and waited until after we met on Thursday. Kenisha guessed that it was because of the Japanese tendency to not want to have to explain things in person, and to avoid face-to-face confrontation. I thought that perhaps he didn't want to make our last meeting awkward or depressing, since the host club is not supposed to be a place to cry, but to smile. Not that I would've cried right there in the club, but at least if I had known I would've cherished that hour even more.

When I think about it, perhaps he was giving me the tiniest little signals of his resignation, and I just didn't think much about it. A few weeks ago he wrote in his blog that he had dyed his hair a little darker, to set an example for the new workers at his other job. When I went to the club on Thursday, he was a little more enthusiastic that night, and even a little flirtatious and always looking me directly in the eyes when he spoke. He gave me his new business card for when the host club changed their name, and said that was his last one (by which I thought he meant his 'last one' before he printed out more, not his last one altogether). When I showed him the purikura I took before coming to the club, I pointed out that I had a double of one of them (a little bit smaller than his business card) and cut it out, and he held out his hand for it before I even said I was giving it to him. He enthusiastically accepted it and put it in his business card case, replacing the last business card that was there. Then he talked about my classes starting on Monday and told me to do my best, and then said he was going to do his best at his other job. I didn't think much of it at all.

So that's it, I guess. I haven't asked him when his last day would be. If I could, I'd go to see him once more, but I'm thinking that perhaps we should leave it at that. It was a short ride, but a wonderful experience. I did spend a lot of money in all, but honestly it was worth it. A lot of you might think I'm ridiculous, that I was wasting my time and money. And some of you are probably laughing at me, which is perfectly fine because I've been laughing at myself too, joking about how my host is dumping me. I've learned so much about life in general and about myself, knowledge so deep and so valuable that I don't think a lot of people would understand if I tried to explain it to them.

So where do I go from here? I was originally planning to see my host right before I left Japan, but I had a feeling he wouldn't make it all the way to July/August. There's no more reason to visit the club, really. I did like some of the other hosts, but not nearly as much as my own. I'm not all that enthusiastic about going to a different club...it's kind of like trying to jump into the dating scene after just breaking up with someone you cared about a lot. But you're not going to see me crying in a corner about this. Please, I don't have time for that.

On one hand I'm really going to miss my host, but another part of me is somewhat relieved. He's better off devoting his time fully to his primary job, and it gives me more time to start diving into other things and focusing on school and potential careers (which I was going to do anyway once the semester started). In addition, because he's no longer going to be a host, I wonder if that means I can interview him for my research. My plan from the very beginning of my project was to interview a former host, or at least someone who was going to be more honest than a current host. Although I imagine my host would have been honest with me from the start anyway, this would probably be better. I pray that I can keep contact with him for as long as possible.

With that said, I'm going to go wash my hair and get ready to go out. I'll write another post about my visit to Yokohama and all of the photos I took.

In closing, this is the purikura I gave to my host:



He may not have had an 'ace' customer but at least he can say he had a gorgeous one ;)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What a night >_<

I was bored yesterday, so I made plans to go out, for absolutely no reason.

My first plan was to visit Yokohama to take some pictures. But I didn't want to take the train all the way there, just to take pictures and do little else. So I decided to go on Friday instead.

Then I thought about going to Tokyo Station. I've been through the station several times, but never actually went out into the city. But as time passed, I figured I'd do that later as well. Maybe Saturday.

So then I decided to go to Kabukicho. I felt like doing some host watching.

I got a little more than I expected. Just a little.

I got all dressed up, even put on some eyeshadow. (I looked pretty awesome, if I do say so myself ^_^) So I arrived at Shinjuku and started walking towards Kabukicho. I still had my earbuds on and messing with my iPod, and that's when one host tried to strike! He didn't try too hard, though. I pretended not to see him, and since my earbuds were on I couldn't hear him either. My first thought as I was crossing the street was, "It worked!"

I didn't get hit on a lot, probably because I had my eyes glued to my cellphone screen, pretending to be focused on something. But I could tell I was being watched. One guy whose face I didn't see followed me for a few seconds and said hi...he wasn't even wearing a suit but I knew he had to have been a host. Someone else passing out flyers held one out to me, and I didn't want to ignore him and walk by, so I took it. After I took it, I realized what I had done and that I couldn't just keep walking. So I stopped, looked at it, and said "Thank you" to the host, lol. I felt really bad ignoring and refusing all these guys, but it's no big deal.

I was really nervous about the attention I was getting, so I hid around at a few game centers until later in the evening. I even took some purikura. Yeah, it was by myself...but I was all dressed up, so I figured, why not? I looked like a hostess, lol.






The interesting part came later. I was walking around, and one of the hosts caught my eye, because he had some really nice pants on. Two girls were coming in the other direction, and the host spun around and started talking to them. It turned out to be the manager of the host club that I've been visiting! Kenisha apparently has a crush on him because he wears glasses and looks a little bit like Koike Teppei. I was really surprised, because I figured most of the newbies do 'catch' and flyering, which is a custom of host club heirarchy. As soon as I saw him, I found a place on the side to stand so I could message Kenisha. At the same time, he was just a few feet away, on the phone with someone. When I looked up for a split second, he was facing my direction, as if he was looking straight at me...perhaps he recognized me, or maybe he was just wondering if he should try and approach me. But a few seconds later he disappeared.

A few minutes later, I moved to another spot and continued exchanging messages...and suddenly this fat, middle-aged salaryman came up to me and started talking to me in Japanese. He asked if I wanted to drink with him, and I said I didn't speak much Japanese. Then he started speaking to me in English!!! So I pretended that I didn't know English either, haha. It was pretty awkward and embarrassing. I wonder if the hosts were watching, because that was pretty bad. Maybe he thought I was a hostess...

A few hours later, I met up with Kenisha, who had just come back from a trip. What an enormous feeling of relief to have her with me, not just as a friend but because of the way she was dressed, which was like the opposite of what I was wearing: Jeans, a hoodie, and tennis shoes. Her hair wasn't too impressive either...we joked that she was my host repellent, and it seemed to be working pretty well, until...

...two hosts that happened to speak a little English approached us. When that happened there was no way we could ignore them. We actually stopped for a few minutes and they asked us to come to the club with them, and for a very very low price...I might have taken the bait, but Kenisha didn't want to go, citing later on that she wasn't dressed to go to the club (and still had her bag of stuff from her trip). They were very friendly and funny, and I really wanted to go. Kenisha said that I would be "cheating on my host" if I went with them...as if my host didn't already have other customers!

Well, God must've thought the same thing, because after a little more walking around, I ran into my host, or rather, he noticed me and got my attention. We made some small talk for a few minutes, and met his silly friend who also works at the club. Afterwards, I wondered what would have happened if Kenisha and I agreed to go with those two hosts we talked to moments before, and my host saw us. There was little chance of that happening because of the distance between the two locations, but if I wasn't aware that my host was out and not at the club, he might have seen us. That would have been bad, but he wouldn't be able to do anything, right?

If this was a real relationship, going with those two would have been out of the question. But host clubs are a service. I'm not obligated to be "loyal" to my host. Even so, I didn't choose my host that night in January out of the blue. Maybe if he had seen me, it would have motivated him to try harder so he could hold onto me as a customer. Another thing is that, I was completely unaware that he was out, so he could have chosen to not approach me. But he actually came to talk to me, which was nice. I wonder what the motivation was. Am I his friend? Was he just trying to show the hosts in the area that I was "his"? Was he just trying to kill time because he was bored out of his mind? I have no idea. It's way too difficult to distinguish what's real and what's not.

What I do know is that brand name bags are not the only target for hosts. If you're dressed nicely, that's another way to get attention. Some of the girls even wear somewhat plain clothes and they still get approached. It depends on the host and how hard he wants to try. There were still some hosts who didn't bother approaching me. My experiment got great results...though I'm not sure I ever want to do that again, at least not by myself. I need my host repellent--I mean, Kenisha. ^_^

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Host Club Gossip: My own little J-Drama

Can't be at the host club everyday, or even once a week?
Always wondering what's going on when you're not at the shop?
Eager to know the prices of what you can't already afford?

Enter Host Love, a BBS where people (mostly girls) gossip about all kinds of things related to host and hostess clubs, as well as the fuzoku (sex shops, or 'legalized prostitution' if you wanna go that level).

I discovered this site in a host club wiki/dictionary while trying to figure out the meanings of certain shop terms. It was listed under the entry for a 'bomb site' (爆弾サイト), in which 'bomb' refers to rumors or exposure of details about a host. Of course I was very curious, so I visited the site and found that there were tons of threads about different shops, discussions about top customers (called 'aces') and individual host topics, provided that someone creates the thread. I'm not particularly interested in any of the threads except for the ones related to the club I visit, but if I ever wanted to visit a particular shop or find out something about a certain host before I go, I can look it up on Host Love.

Of course, the site is labeled as a 'gossip' site, so you can't take everything you read here as truth. It's up to the reader to decide whether he or she will believe something. Everyone on the site posts anonymously as well, for good reason of course. A lot of the stuff I've been reading is the same old talk about makura and whose ace ordered what, but I did come across some interesting happenings, and some discussion about my own host. It's nothing really important; he's still a 'new recruit' so he isn't as popular as the club's top hosts. A lot of the girls refer to him as a 'good kid,' which is kind of cute, I guess. After all, he's only 19 and I imagine most of the customers are in their early to mid-20s.

Needless to say, the gossip site is in Japanese, so if you don't understand the language it's not very helpful. Also, there is a lot of slang, from general Japanese slang to host club-specific terminology to chatspeak. It was really hard for me to understand at first but I'm starting to get used to it. Now to go study some real Japanese...