Inside the host clubs of Osaka

The Great Happiness Space is a documentary by Jake Clennell about the hosts of Osaka, who entertain women for money. Not sleep with them for money – although they occasionally do have sex. They are charming, make their customers feel like the centre of attention – essentially, they have pretend love affairs with them.

It’s interesting on so many levels: first, how the host club lets the female customers play out a sort of fantasy of having a perfect boyfriend – for a very steep price. The most successful host, Issei, earns $50,000 a month. Clennell says on the movie’s website:

The situation in the club was a new phenomenon. Gender roles are constantly changing around the World and here it was happening in the extreme.

The official summary describes it as a twist on the geisha tradition.

Which is true to an extent. But in other ways, it’s not true at all. Although we see lots of footage of the hosts trying to pick up random women on the street, it becomes clear later on that most of their customers are in the same game. All of the customers interviewed for the documentary are prostitutes – one of them says that the hosts are not judgmental in the way an average person would be. There’s no analysis of this in the documentary, but it gets really sad. And exploitative. Some of the women who are regular customers end up working as prostitutes to afford to come to the clubs.

You can watch the feature-length documentary here.