“I wasn’t aware that I was doing anything wrong at all”, says A woman who works at a rip-off bar — Her Amazing Story Inside!
The reality of Piena, as depicted by a writer who is currently a student at Keio University. 5 years after Reiwa, Kabukicho is now ...... #54
In Kabukicho, there has been a recent spate of busts of “rip-off bars” using matching apps. 16 members of the largest rip-off group in Kabukicho were arrested in early April. On April 9, the leader of the group was also arrested.
The group’s M.O. was to lure male customers, caught on a matching app, to a restaurant they wanted to go to, where female employees would order shot glasses for 3,000 yen a glass. Some customers were apparently asked to order as many as 80 shots.
Although we do not know what was going on with this group, the fact is that in many cases, the women who are ripping off customers are unaware that they are involved in a crime.
When I was working there, I didn’t think it was a rip-off bar at all.
Ami (pseudonym, 19), who currently works at a soap bar in Kabukicho, says matter-of-factly, “When I was working there, I didn’t think it was a rip-off bar at all. She was a toe yoko kid, but she started helping out at a rip-off bar because she wanted money to go to a host club.
She says, “When I was having trouble paying my accounts receivable (debt to the host club), someone I met at Toyoko said to me, ‘Why don’t you work at our bar? I’ll give you 40% of the proceeds. I thought, “That’s really good! So I jumped at the chance (laughs).
Ami took the men she approached at clubs in Kabukicho and men she met on matching apps to the designated bars one after another.
She would invite them to her clubs by offering them 5,000 yen for all-you-can-drink, and then make them order shots of tequila or other drinks that were not included in the all-you-can-drink price at the club. They would often play games like, ‘If you lose, you have to drink the whole bottle. Since 40% of the proceeds were the reward, we were desperate to get them to order a lot of drinks. I wasn’t aware that I was doing anything wrong at all.
There were times when he charged one customer close to 200,000 yen. Ami continues.
It’s true that I encouraged them to drink, but they didn’t refuse. A shot of tequila for 3,000 yen is not unusual in Kabukicho, and I thought it was the same in cabarets.
However, the bar I worked at was not that vicious, so I didn’t look at their pocketbooks and didn’t try to agitate them to force them to withdraw money from the ATM. So there were days when I was not making enough money and I was only getting about 1,000 yen an hour.
I think the group that was arrested this time threatened customers and overcharged them. There are many establishments in Kabukicho that make money using grayish methods.
The word “rip-off” tends to make people think that only male customers are victims, but in Kabukicho, women can be victims as well. Mayuka (pseudonym, 23), who works at a cabaret club in Kabukicho, says, “There are a lot of boys’ bars and con cafes.”
There are many dangerous places such as boys’ bars and con cafes. The guys who work there use matching apps to catch girls, bring them to the bar, and make them ask for expensive drinks and other things. There are also many cases where the girls can no longer pay their bills and start working in the sex industry or in cabarets.
In the worst cases, they do this to underage girls. One of my acquaintances who works at a con cafe had a 16-year-old girl he caught on a matching app do prostitution and had her pay the bill.
From the point of view of a conscientious store owner, the increase in “rip-offs” in Kabukicho is nothing but a nuisance. Anyway, both men and women should be careful when a person you meet on a matching app specifies a restaurant.
From the May 12 and 19, 2023 issue of “FRIDAY
Interview and text： Sasaki Chihuahua
Born in Tokyo in 2000. After attending an integrated school in Tokyo from elementary school to high school, he went on to Keio University, where he has been living in Kabukicho since he was 15 years old. At university, he is studying the sociology of the downtown area, including Kabukicho. His book, "Pien" to SNS Seikatsu to Seiketsu no Shohi" (The Disease of "Pien": Consumption and Approval of the SNS Generation) is now on sale.