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> Mizu Shobai and the culture in Seattle?, possible setting and plot hooks
Daddy's Litt...
post May 13 2010, 04:24 PM
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I was recently reading a study on Japanese sexual anthopology and realized this is a major part of the J-corp culture that has never appeared in the SR books but would provide settings and plot hooks.

Some of this stuff a Japan-o-phile might be familiar with but I will try to give a little more structure.

Japan's culture is very buttoned up. To prevent the whole society from popping a cork one day, there is accepted times of release, drunkeness that is forgotten the next day. You could call the boss a pig molesting goat and throw up on his armani suit but the next day, if you felt truly bad, you would just bow and say "It was the sake" and all would be forgiven. This is not something we could do in the west.

J-corp often require ridiculous amounts of unpaid over time. You are expected to do this because you are grateful for your job and want to express the desire to advance. To keep the workers happy, especially in white collar jobs the boss will often take workers out drinking as a group function. You are expected to go, to drink heavily and interact with coworkers. If someone sings kareoke, then you all take a turn. To do so is to insult everyonein the party. They go either to a bar, kareoke or Mizu Shobai. This last is the often misunderstood. The high point is the "hostess club." Done up to the nines as a place for men to meet and be entertained by attractive talented women this is NOT a brothel or a strip club. It is the modern development of the geisha.

The boss has a table and the corp have bottles already under their account that the party is served from and men relax in the company of co-workers. the rules of society are relaxed. the rules of the office are gone and it lacks the stress of 'home' where they are expected to be father/husband/provider. Conversations should not be about work, unless very brief, or home life. When all is said and done the boss signs the check and all the good little salery men roll out the door.

The hostess are to provide entertainment, flirt and keep the party going. They encourage the men to boast and flirt and joke and hope for a chance of sexual contact, but never come across. The prostitutes who do that are a lower class. if you want that you go to a different sort of place AFTER the hostess club. A club is noted by its location and the quality of its fixtures. The hostess should be attractive, intelligent, well read, up on current events. able to sing or play and intument and be subservient to the party. She can dress in anything from a kimono to a gown to tres chic depending on the club theme. Although you go to a club for the quality of the hostess she is not a part of the party anymore than the table or glassware or the room fixtures are.

In the world of AAA corps these places would be corp controlled and places might even vie for elegance and which one you could get into. All this would be in Japan, but in SR with major facilities of J corps in Seattle and other places outside of Nippon these might well translate over. In such a place corpers are more relaxed. They might let slip secrets or might be willing to meet contacts there. It is a place where indiscreet actions are forgiven or over looked.
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Adarael
post May 13 2010, 04:48 PM
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Yeah, I noticed that in a lot of the corporate books, they mention 'working long hours', but they never really go into the Japanese root phenomenon they're basing corporate culture around. Which is odd, because my mental impression of what corporate zones look like and contain is largely an amalgamation of the more corporate areas and Manhattan-esque layout of Minato-Ku in Tokyo (I forget what the sub-district I'm thinking of is called), combined with the rampant proliferation of bars, nightclubs and hangout spots of Roppongi and Akasaka. Specifically, I assumed that AAA zones had such heavy security so that corporate employees could relax and feel at home within their own corporate culture, surrounded by fellow wageslaves, and enjoy themselves in an environment where cutting loose would occur with their immediate work peer group.

Because really, if I DON'T look at AAA zones through the lens of mizu shobai or the Microsoft-ization of Bellevue and Redmond, I just can't make any sense of the use of AAA zones *except* as residential planned communities. And I think AAA zones should be more than just houses and condos. They should include exclusive clubs, shopping areas, events centers, and other things that make corporate citizens feel lucky they have access to.
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Daddy's Litt...
post May 13 2010, 05:16 PM
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Right, and even though I am an "ethnic"-Japanese, I am an American. My RL family is very important and in SR I see corp enclaves as work and family areas with what American cultures look for. Schools, homes and shopping. Probably a movie theatre and stuff. BUT the Mizu Shobai culture adds something we in the west do not suffer from. The worker feels he cannot relax at home. It is also not that the workers go to a particular club to hang out, but might spend an hour at one club and then go on to another hostess club or another form of entertainment. What we would call 'bar hopping.'

It seems to be that this is accepted as a part of 'work time' by the families even though in the west we would see it as 'a boys night out.'
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Mesh
post May 13 2010, 07:47 PM
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QUOTE (Daddy's Little Ninja @ May 13 2010, 12:24 PM) *
Japan's culture is very buttoned up. To prevent the whole society from popping a cork one day, there is accepted times of release, drunkeness that is forgotten the next day. You could call the boss a pig molesting goat and throw up on his armani suit but the next day, if you felt truly bad, you would just bow and say "It was the sake" and all would be forgiven. This is not something we could do in the west.


I would not say society is buttoned up. I would say it is conflict averse. For those of you who may one day work in Japan, do not try this. Or at least expect realistic repercussions. Insulting and throwing up on co-workers seems to be detrimental to your career in every culture outside Klingon.

Mesh
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Daddy's Litt...
post May 13 2010, 08:02 PM
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I was using hyperbole, but it seems to be considered that what happens in Mizu Shobai, stays there. In western society it is bad when one would say "He cannot hold his booze" but in Japanese culture of the office outing it is considered completely acceptable.
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hermit
post May 14 2010, 08:56 AM
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Interesting indeed. Are these clubs organised in franchise chains of sorts, or is this a small entrepreneur specialised stores business? Are they considered respectable or is it conceivable they're run by criminal gangs (and, on an unrelated side note, do ATMs that lend you money and are run by the Yakuza really exist? A Friend who used to date a Japanese told me about this, but I found it a bit too ... blatant.)

Sounds like a good location for various things to happen, and a nice way to bring a sort of exotic j-corp flavour to the j-corps. I suppose all larger corp enclaves would have their own little entertainment strips? Also, how arbitrary is the style and decor, the music played and the size of such a club?
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Daddy's Litt...
post May 14 2010, 12:46 PM
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It’s weird, it seems to be respectable to go to a hostess club but they don’t speak of it much. This is what the book’s writer was investigating. She was looking into the social factors not the ownership but it could go either way. It seems most are individually owned, the way night clubs or bars are in the US but it would not be out of place for a network of clubs. The chic factor though seems to be that a club is known for its particular “mama” and hostesses more than the decorations. A chain would not carry the same effect.

The person ‘running’ it is known as the “Mama” and she is the public face and does control it. She is usually too old to be a hostess (mid 30’s) but is skilled at the work and makes a point of remembering what client’s like and do so she can make them feel special. “Tanaka-san, it has been 2 months since you visited, has your ulcer been causing you trouble again?” When a guest leaves she will usually walk them to the door.

She usually has a ‘patron’ who puts up the cash for the place but does nothing with the running. This is where a Yak might get a foot in. The cost for a 2nd class club-still very, very good runs about $150 (RL) per guest/per hour plus drinks. A first class place can be 3 times that much.

Many companies dedicate 5% of their budget to ‘entertainment.” If the boss says you’re going out, you’re going it is a part of office life and wives, who almost never go near these places, seems to think it is an acceptable part of their husband’s career. They believe it is necessary for him to better interact with co-workers but do not really know what goes on there.

You would usually not go to a club alone the way we might walk into a bar. It is a group outing but different groups in the same club rarely interact. Usually an office outing the author also pointed out cases where a father brought in his 21 year old daughter and her new employer to celebrate the daughter’s new job, so it’s kind of odd that way, women are rare as guests in a very male world, but there is no stigma of “what were you thinking?” as if my dad had taken me to a strip club or something.

That is there is no stigma for those who go to a club. The idea is that women who work as a hostess are 'dirty girls' even if most elegant. That a true woman would not do this and is not suitable for marriage. But many are married or become married later. When she is marreid a woman is 'respectable.' Married hostess do not reveal this fact, it destroys the illusion.
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Daddy's Litt...
post May 14 2010, 12:47 PM
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As for the Yakuza ATM's it would not surprise me. I do not get it eithetr but they have a weird status in Japan. Everyone knows whop the bosses are. It is like it's ok to be a mobster so long as you do not get caught doing anything mobsterish.
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hermit
post May 14 2010, 07:00 PM
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I always thought the level of acceptance the Yakuza receive western myth and/or a misunderstanding of sorts. I so will use these YakuzaBank ATMs sometime in a game.

Do Mizu Shobei clubs have some sort of theme, like these weird little cafés? Or are they more down to earth, traditional locations and entirely depend on the mama's and the hostesses' charisma? Also, would a brothel (or, in SR terms, an escort club or a bunraku parlour) be located close to a Mizu Shobei, or are they segregated into a lower-class neighbourhood?
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Daddy's Litt...
post May 14 2010, 07:34 PM
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Mizu shobai is the whole culture of the night life of which the hostess club is the top of the line. Partaking of the mizu shobai you might start at a hostess club for drinks and flirting then if you need actual gratification you could visit a pink room or soap room or a peep show for a lower class girl but all could be in a the same good neighborhood. They seem to be in corp areas so workers can reach them, not residential areas. With a Hostess it is the game of 'will she come across' but never does and always avoids giving the final yes or no, being evasive. that is the game.

For setting, they seem to be more conservative letting louder less classy places follow themes. Think of someone trying to create an English mannor's smoking room and going WAY over the top. The writer pointed out that in Japan they take appearances VERY far to do things fully, like wearing full golfing outfits just to go to the driving range.
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Snow_Fox
post May 14 2010, 11:13 PM
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I could see it in the J corps but there might be some problems. After hour socializing in the US happens but mistakes aren't forgotten and we don't have the need to vent pressure. I like to think my husband likes to come home to me.

I could see it being transfered over to big complexes, like arcologies for japanese executives who want to bring traditions of Japan to the new location but wonder how well it would translate to the non-japanese workers? Would they understand the rules of interaction with the boss? With the hostesses? Would this create a sub class of Japanese workers vs westerners? what about women workers? is this a new glass ceiling? Alot of this all falls into that field. I could see this as a very good set up and contacts but it really would need to be thought out.
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Ascalaphus
post May 15 2010, 12:09 AM
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The culture clash between Japanese management and American workers is an opportunity for stories, of course. Attempts by wageslaves to speed up their career by imitating the Japanese, or managers who fatally misunderstand local American sensibilities..

Nice thread by the way, I always like these interesting tidbits.
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Snow_Fox
post May 17 2010, 01:40 AM
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It occures to me that it could be a whole glass ceiling in J-corps to control gaijan. If you're really going to fit in at "X" you have to be Japanese or at least suborn your non-Japanese lifestyle. Similarly what if someone leaves, say, Renraku, and wants to start this elsewhere? What about the J-corp that left japan, does that carry htis with them? What about a corp that picks up a substantially Japanese corp, like the fragments of Fuchi?

DLN also does a mean Tea ceremoney.
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