Present Human Relationships in Japan

English: Signage for hostess bars in Kabukicho...

English: Signage for hostess bars in Kabukicho, Tokyo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Narumi Ito

Anne Allison mentioned “global affective labor” in her book. Affective labor need not only physical strength but also restrain on emotion and tension on their work. Thus they always smile and pay attention to customers. Japan has affective labor such as a waiter, a flight attendant, hostess and maikosan. Especially, maikosan is unique to Japanese culture. They play Japanese instruments and perform traditional dances. In addition, a person who has never been to Japanese restaurants in which maikosa work cannot get services by maikosan because of ichigen san no kotowari (maikosan rejects people who do not connect with other customers). Thus maikosan tend to have “good” relationships with their customers.

On the other hand, a hostess is different from maikosan. They drink with customers, especially, most of them are office workers and hear their talking. Some customers talk proudly about themselves and complain about their jobs or families. Thus hostesses have to praise and pay compliments to them. There are two reasons why people want to go to clubs in which hostess provides drinks and chat with their customers.

The first reason is that people do not have “real” relationships. They are under stress, feel lonely and worry about their ibasho. After the Second World War, people worked hard and they could have time to spend with their families and friends. They could not consult with their parents about their worries. In addition, it was more difficult for them to keep company with their coworkers than with their families because fellow workers were just people who work with them in same offices. Thus they cannot find their ibasho in their lives any more.

However they think that they want to have someone hear their troubles. If they cannot consult their troubles with their families or friends, they will come to seek people who can advise to them, even if the people are stranger for them. They go to hostess clubs and confide their feelings. A hostess always hears their worries. Moreover, a hostess always praises her customers thus they can feel better.

The second reason is that customers do not need to worry about relationships with hostesses. People do not have opportunities to meet hostesses unless they visit hostess clubs. Thus if they have a quarrel with a hostess, they do not mind about it because they are outsiders in each other’s lives. It connects with mendoukusai. In modern Japan, they consider relationships as troublesome things because it is hard for them to keep and continue on good conditions.

In conclusion, if muenshakai is worse, people need to depend on stranger to solve their problems in Japan in the future. Thus people should have strong relationships even if they have only one. Japanese people have to own the same image of Japanese future which people have closer relationships and Japan will become stable.

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One thought on “Present Human Relationships in Japan

  1. Pingback: An unexpected “gaijin moment” | JAPANsociology

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