＜In May of this year, two men were reportedly ripped off for 400,000 yen by illegal touts in Akabane, Tokyo. According to the Akabane Police Department, the number of such cases has increased sharply to 60 by the end of May this year, about six times as many as in the same period last year.
The number of cases of rip-offs is increasing in proportion to the deregulation of coronas. Asuna Sakura, a cabaret actress and manga artist who works at one of Kabukicho’s most famous cabarets, “Gentleman’s Club,” reveals that there are still many rip-off stores in Kabukicho.
Kabukicho had the largest number of rip-off stores around 2015.
Catch operators on the street and staff at malicious information centers would take customers to cabaret clubs, saying things like “total price 5,000 yen,” and then charge them a hefty fee of 500,000 yen or 700,000 yen after adding set fees, drinks, and service charges.
It was common for them to post the price list on the wall behind the seats, where it was difficult for customers to see it, and it was a common occurrence for customers and the restaurant to have a dispute when it came time to pay.
At that time, it was common to see employees chasing customers who had trouble paying for their bills, or customers and employees holding slips of paper to withdraw money from ATMs at convenience stores.
Since Reiwa, concept cafes and bars, meaning restaurants where costumed girls work, have been experiencing a number of cases of rip-offs based on a system whereby customers are charged when they take their seats, rather than when they order. Even in restaurants where the price range is originally about 5,000 yen.
We charge one digit more than other restaurants.
The most common practice is to charge ¥50,000 for a seat at a shop where the price is originally ¥5,000. The catches on the street no longer forcefully lead customers to the stores, and customers are lured by female waitresses dressed up in cosplay and other costumes and go to the stores on their own.
The customers go to the store on their own.
The customers are less likely to complain when the store staff presses them with such questions as, “You came in without permission, didn’t you? This system was surprisingly common in the Showa period (1926-1989), and since the Reiwa era, it is said to have returned to the simpler Showa rip-off method than in the Heisei period.
The difference from the Showa era is that matching apps are often used. Women in cahoots with the stores successfully lure men they meet on the matching apps to the rip-off stores. In return, the women receive half of the proceeds.
People in their mid-30s or older, people from outlying areas, and people who are not accustomed to drinking are often targeted by the bad merchants because they are more likely to be willing to pay money. Even those involved in the water business in the same Kabukicho area can be victims of rip-offs. The other day, several hosts who left a bar they went to for the first time after 15 minutes after drinking a cup of tea split each, were upset about a tweet in which they were charged a total of 35,000 yen and paid it, but were outraged.
Many customers try to get into trouble with the store and go to the police station, but since the police are civil non-interventionists, the store has no consequences if the customers go to the police station. If you are about to be ripped off, we recommend that you contact the police department’s life safety division instead of going to the police station. The stores are afraid that their business license will be revoked, so they will charge the lowest possible fee.
In Kabukicho, rip-offs are constantly changing to suit the times, and they are not going away.
Manga： Asuna Sakura
Manga artist who is currently working at "Gentleman's Club" in Kabukicho. Former race queen. Also active on Twitter (@sakuraasuna01).
Interview and text： Yutaisha
Writer. A sex worker who lives near Kabukicho and is familiar with hosts and host clubs, she spends her days teasing hosts on SNS and on the street.