Description: Girls bars attempt to bridge the gap between hostess clubs and cocktail bars. Just like a cocktail bar, you'll sit at the bar and order drinks as you want. And just like a hostess club, you'll be provided with a girl to talk to (generally one girl per group). The twist is that she'll be on the other side of the bar rather than sitting next to you. Yes, all of the bartenders will be female. "But Whiskey Richard," you say, "at my local bar in Poughkeepsie NY, we have actual good female bartenders that I can chat with all the time. Why should I be paying extra for this in Japan," you may ask. In all honesty you probably shouldn't. But for the more stubborn or
desperate determined reader, I offer the following points:
- Girls bars staff a lot of girls, so if you're there for 2-3 hours you'll "meet" a lot of different ones. Are they really the kind of girl you want to spend your night talking to? Who knows!
- They are technically not hostess clubs, and they actively avoid being categorized as such due to the legal ramifications. So if you or someone important to you is opposed to hostess clubs, well, technically you didn't go to one...
- Unlike hostess clubs, the bartenders at girls bars could actually be somewhat experienced bartenders who made the shift for a bump in pay. Or they could be girls that couldn't make the cut at a hostess club. Either way this will be reflected in the quality of cocktails that are offered.
System: Again it's tough to generalize about the systems used at girls bars. Most places will have you pay ~2000 yen per 40-60 minutes plus the cost of drinks (which range 800-2000 yen each). Girls bars commonly push the envelope of the law that governs most of the country's nightlife -- the Fueiho ("Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Business"). Notice how the female bartenders are specifically always behind the bar counter. Notice how they'll rotate every 30 minutes or so, meaning you don't talk to the same one all night long. Notice how they don't sing along when someone gets drunk and decides to belt out a few. All of this is due to specific clauses of the Fueiho, and it's to avoid being categorized as a kyabakura. This allows them to stay open until the wee hours, whereas kyabakura typically close around 12AM.
Budget: Depending on how quickly you drink it will probably end up around 4000 yen per hour, per person.
Making friends: That's clearly the goal here, but remember, these girls are on the clock. Keep your expectations in check and it can be a lot of fun.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.