From Publishers Weekly
Japanese companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to hostess clubs that provide certain employees a release from job tensions. Here hostesses perform ritualized tasks--lighting cigarettes, pouring drinks, conversing in a stylized flirtatious manner--and while there is an erotic charge, the sex is implied, not performed. Duke University cultural anthropologist Allison's account of the four months she spent as a hostess at Bijo, a high-class Tokyo hostess club, is the first written description, in English or Japanese, devoted wholly to these after-work hangouts for corporate, white-collar sarariiman ("salaryman," an English/Japanese linguistic concoction). Allison has not written a voyeur's account, but a soundly researched study that provides substantial insights into the meanings of work and play for the Japanese. Whatever else they may do, the hostesses' first duty is to emphasize the client's strengths and his status as a desirable male, which, Allison argues, helps create the ideal sarariiman , one committed first and foremost to his job. Allison interviewed not only the hostesses and other Bijo staffers, but also wives of the men who frequent the club, club neophytes, managers of other hostess clubs, Japanese sociologists, journalists and others. Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography views Japanese night life from the eyes of a woman and feminist anthropologist. If the writing is occasionally dryly academic, Nightwork nonetheless provides valuable, thought-provoking reading for those interested in Japan, contemporary society or in gender roles.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A fascinating look at the Japanese hostess club culture, where businessmen go to "feel like a man." The clubs are lavish or glitzy, depending on their quality and cost, but the focus is always the same for the men: to be entertained, cajoled, and flirted with by a young, attractive woman. Sex? Not necessarily. While flirting is open and expected, and intimate touching is not unknown, the purpose of these clubs is to offer an atmosphere where masculinity is "collectively realized and ritualized." Allison argues that this activity reinforces certain ideas of male dominance which so define the Japanese corporate world. Scholarly but never pedantic, the book is further bolstered by the author's own experience as a hostess. A penetrating look at a slice of Japanese business life. Brian McCombie