Japan’s thriving hostess industry is as lucrative as it gets, and for one person, that could mean up to $100,000 a month.
“I make a minimum of $930 [a day],” says Kurumi Hoshino, who left her jobs at a karaoke place and a wedding ceremony hall for the more profitable career.
Kurumi, 28, is the Number 1 Hostess at Club Lalah, a luxurious hostess bar in the bustling entertainment district of Roppongi, Tokyo Prefecture.
A native of Kumamoto in the island of Kyushu, she topped the ranks for being the best at sales, earning an average of $46,000 a month.
“One month, I did try to make $100,000,” Kurumi tells Hiroko of Asian Boss. “I know my customers spend a lot every time they visit me.”
“And while that doesn’t make me feel bad, their spending does become my salary, so I buy them things like socks, handkerchiefs or cigarettes sometimes.”
This thoughtful approach to customers — as well as a “natural” communication style — catapulted Kurumi at the top of her game. So far, the most she has made in a month was $74,000.
“When I was back in Kumamoto, I was taught not to spend my whole salary on myself,” Kurumi says. “So, 40% of my salary goes into giving back to my customers.”
Kurumi applied to work at Club Lalah when its management visited Kumamoto. Today, the establishment employs some 80 women, but only about 50 work each day.
Things have not always been smooth for Kurumi, however. In her early days, she met a customer that scammed her out of $1,900.
“My customer told me that if I invested $1,900, he could double my money, so I gave it to him,” Kurumi recalls. “He disappeared.”
“I was a college student and all I could think was, ‘Oh, my $1,900 will become $3,800. That’s great.”
Before meeting customers, Kurumi spends two hours in front of the mirror, getting her clothes, hair and makeup done.
“It’s all about your looks. The customer pays money to see us, so if we don’t get selected. So I always go to the beauty salon and nail salon once a month.”
She added that she wants to undergo cosmetic surgery — which “a lot” of hostesses opt to — specifically one that would make her nose “Western-looking.”
“If there’s an ugly hostess, the customer will never, ever say a word to her.”
When asked if her work involves sex, Kurumi points out that it does not involve money.
“If they flirt with me and I like it, then we’ll have sex. So it happens, but I’ve never gotten paid for sex.”
Kurumi recalls her lowest point in the industry when she had to leave home.
For one, her mom burst in tears, while her friends told her that Roppongi is “way too out of your league.”
“I have a lot of pride and I was afraid I’d look bad if I went back to my hometown,” Kumuri says. “So I had no choice but to move forward and just kept working hard.”
She also thinks about gossipmongers in her hometown, which happens to be in the countryside. For this reason, she hopes to appear more “normal” in her parents’ eyes.
“People gossip about why I’m still doing this kind of job. And because of that, I wanted to treat my parents well by doing things that normal girls can’t do.”
Despite her massive income, Kurumi acknowledges that her job is far from permanent — and younger hostesses can attract her customers at any moment.
As such, she focuses on working hard, without caring too much about ranking.
“I think it’s just a waste of time. Sometimes I get asked, ‘Is being no. 1 worth it?’ Definitely not.”
Images via YouTube / Asian Boss