Rowen Boozewell is the autor of the book. He lives in Tokyo with his best friend and seem to be enjoying a lot of football.
We meet John Box, a man who comes to Tokyo, in pursuit of living the dream as a host at a host club. For those unfamiliar of what a host club is, here is a brief introduction: A host club is a place where females pay for male company. The hosts are charismatic and flirtatious, and they make their money by having the women pay for drinks, and the hosts get comission. Read more about host clubs on wikipedia.
John Box invites the reader into a world usually not known by an outsider. We get to see what’s actually happening in a host club, how they get their customers, what the customers are like and how the hosts charm them. We also get to see beyond the host club, what’s goes on behind the scenes. The relationships between the hosts, the rules of the industry, if there’s any brotherhood or rivalry.
While the book is often humorous, mostly because of Box being such a likeable douchebag, it’s momentarily sad and tragic. The host clubs seem like good fun, but there are also lonely individuals, yearning for love and attention. I think this is why a personality like Box is needed in the book, because he lights up the whole story, being a cheeky and carefree guy who just wants to have fun. Because host clubs are about that, having fun and escaping reality for a little while.
All in all, I truly enjoyed this book. It’s both educational and fun. For anyone interested in Japanese culture and curious to find out what host clubs are all about, I really recommend reading American MaleWhore in Tokyo: The Great White Host.
The book is very graphic, there’s a lot of alcohol, foul language and some very descriptive sex. Please be aware of that this book is for adult readers only.
Before traveling to Japan eveyone thinks different, but I would like to share what things I think of before traveling to Japan. Of course, lots of things are obvious, but while planning what can be a big trip, it’s easy to forget different things, especially if you have never been to Japan before. I can remember the first time we decided to book Japan as our next holiday destination. The amount of research we did, even then, I’m sure we missed a bunch of things, and we probably still do. But as we are planing our next trip I thought I would share the things that we think about before we leave for Japan.
Visa before you buy your tickets?
Before you buy your tickets to Japan it’s importet to make sure your passport will be valid for the whole trip. It’s also important to check if you need some sort of Visa to entry Japan, which you might need to apply for before you buy your flight tickets. For us, we did not need to apply for any extra document, since we were entitled for the Visa Exemption Arrangements. Check with this site for more info about travel Visas: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/visa.html
Booking your flight
Booking our flight we wanted to get the best deal as possible, so I kept my eye on flight prices to and from Japan. I ended up using a flight comparison site called Travel Supermarket, which is available in different languages. A great function they have is a price agent, which emails you every day with the cheapest prices and fastest flights. Now we wanted to balance the price to the amount of flight time, since we diden’t really want to be flying for 22 hours if we did not need to. We knew that we could get a flight for about 12-14 hours, so now it was just to keep an eye on the lowest flight time prices. Most of the time we found the flights that took more hours waiting at some airport for transfer were cheaper than ones with less transfer time. In the end we got a great deal, so our next trip to Japan from Europe will only take around 13 hours. It seems like we bought the tickets at the right time, because had we bought them a week later we would have had to pay a lot more for them, which might of ended up us have to take the longer timed tickets, just keep the price down.
Landing in Japan
We have only flown into Narita airport, which is the primary international airport for greater Tokyo. Traveling from the airport you have a few different choices. We have always gone with the JR Nartia Express (NEX) train, which has been handy for us, since we normally stay in Shinjuku, which is one of the station NEX stops at. This means we don’t need to change trains with our luggage or anything, which is great. It’s not the cheapest way of getting into Tokyo, but it is one of the easiest, being a direct route for us to Shinjuku. Other train services that available are JR Sobu Line, Keisei Skyliner, Keisei Limited Express. A few different bus services are available too, and of course you could jump in a taxi too, but that will cost a bit, since the airport is about 60 km away from central Tokyo. A great site that I used to research what would be the best transportation for us can be found on this link here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2027.html
Finding a hotel can be a pain because of the choice. There are a lot of hotels in Tokyo to choose from. A site that we always use is Booking.com. You can search for all different sorts of hotels, from the cheapest to the dearest ones. One thing we always do when we choose a hotel is to read the reviews for the hotel both on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com. We also check around for the best prices. Booking.com might not always be the best price, sometimes it does pay to book direct via the hotel’s own homepage. Things we think of when booking our hotel are: is breakfast included in the price, if not how much does it cost? Is free wifi available throughout the hotel? In Japan you can choose if you want a smoking or non-smoking room, so this might be important to some people. Check-in and check-out times is something we also look into, and if you get to the hotel before check-in, can they store your luggage for you, and other hotel amenities.
We made our way to the O2 Empire Shepherds Bush a couple of hours before the show. We knew it would take a long time to get there because of a major tube strike in most parts of London. We managed to jump on a very cramped bus that would take us over to Shepherds Bush. We seemed to be stuck on that bus forever, passing a lot of stops where other KPP fans were waiting to get on a bus that wasnt full already. I hope they got there in the end.
Making our way there
We arrived in time and not thinking about the queues that might be outside the venue we got a bite to eat. Fed and happy we found our way over to the venue. We had to walk to the end of a very long line to get in, all the way round to the back of the venue, queuing along a residence street. There were two queues going separate ways, one for for the stalls and one for standing. In the queues we saw several girls dressed up to mimic Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s many outfits from her music videos. There were also lots of girls dressed in Lolita clothes and people dressed in other alternative styles. It was a real mixture of people, teens, adults and families with young children. One thing that we all had in common was the love for KPP and her music.
It wasn’t that bad to wait, not compared to last year’s show, where we were had to stand outside in cold rain and snow. At least this time the weather was nice and it was quite warm outside. Everyone was in high spirits as the queues started to move to the doors around 19ish. In no time at all our tickets had been checked and we were in.
Inside the venue
Inside they sold t-shirts, hoodies and scarfs. But we didn’t stop for that, as we were on our way up to the first level to find some seats, because it the tickets were unspecified. We were luckily enough to grab two seats next to one another on the back row with a great view. Most of all the other seats where occupied before we got there and the people that came in after us either had to split up or got standing places, which in a way was good to because there you could dance if you felt like it. Then we waited, with the other 2200 in the sold out venue, for the show to start.
The stage was much more advanced than the previous concert Kyary performed in London. Last time she said she wanted to come back again with a more lavish show, and she kept her promise. The stage was designed as a children’s playroom with storybooks, bulding blocks, popcorn and a big teddy bear. The style suited her perfectly. She also had a large screen on stage, where a video was played during one of the breaks and outfit changes.
Kyary treated us to a show packed with hits like Hitachi, Candy Candy and Tsukematsukeru. The crowd cheered, sang and danced throughout the show, and when she sang the hits Fashion Monster and PonPonPon so it was clear that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has a very strong fan base in UK.
Last time Kyary performed in London she only spoke Japanese during the show, and an interpreter translated what she said. But this time she had no interpreter with her. Instead, she spoke a little English, using notes written down on a piece of paper which she read aloud from. She also spoke some Japanese this time too, and judging by the reations of the audience it seemed like most understood what she was saying.
During the show, she wore four different outfits: first she was wearing some kind of furry creation, then she switched to a cute pink dress and bow in her hair. Another change of clothes and now she had a different color of her dress, and an even bigger bow in her hair. The final change of outfit was when she was cheered back on stage again, and now she wore a teeshirt, a skirt and bunny ears. In addition to doing a few more songs, she took the opportunity to have her picture taken with her dancers, and with the audience in the background.
The last song of the evening was Chan Chaka Chan Chan, a perfect song to end the show, with the lyrics going “see you, see you, see you again. See you, see you, see you next time.”
Yesterday the annual Swedish Cherry Blossom Festival in Stockholm took place in Kungsträdgården. We got lucky this year, because the cherry trees were actually still in bloom. The weather was fantastic, sunny and warm, and the park was filled with loads of people.
On stage, they had a lolita fashion show, a cosplay show, dance performances, choires and more.
A company called KIKI was there, selling tenugui, beauitful hand printed Japanese hand towels made of cotton.
First Leaf Ikebana, an ichiyo ikebana school, had mini lessons, taught people how make flower arrangements the ikebana way. They have courses and workshops throughout the year.
Mangakai was there too. Thery’re a manga and anime association where the members meet up and draw manga, watch anime, play games and socialise together.
And then there were many other sellers there. Yuko Ono Sthlm was selling beautiful tea caddies and lovely Japanese tea, like gyokuru, yame sencha, fukamushi sencha and kaoribo hojicha. You could also find stalls selling clothes, food, snacks, cute items (Totoro!) and more.
Other stalls included igo (a game, pictured above), origami (paper folding), Blueberry (study Japanese in Japan), Japanspecialisten (arranged trips to Japan), Japanska Skolan and more. It was a great event, and we are already looking forward to next year!
The cherry trees are currently in bloom in Stockholm, Sweden – it’s hanami season! To view them you have to hurry up, because they dont bloom for very long. If you are in the Stockholm area at the moment, make sure to visit Kungsträdgården, because this is a beautiful sight that you don’t want to miss.
Cherry Flower Day / Sakura Matsuri
Like previous years, there will be a Cherry Flower Day celebration in Stockhom this year as well. It will take place on April 26 in Kungsträdgården. The Japanese Society (Japanska Föreningen) is arranging it and there will be a drum show, cosplay, lolita fashion show, dance shows and lots more. Last year was pretty awesome, our report from it can be found here: Hanami in Stockholm