In Japan, ‘Hostess Bars’ are bars where men pay to be flirted with. Attractive women sit by them, pour them drinks, stroke their thighs, pay them compliments, and these girls can make a fortune from big-spenders seeking to impress them with the most expensive champagne and caviar. Of course, not all Hostess Bars make the grade and the ones that don’t pull in the businessmen by the bucket-full end up as ‘Haikyo,’ a Japanese term for ruins.
The Akeno Gekijo haikyo in Ibaraki is something of an oddity in Japan, as one of only a few actual strip clubs. Of course there are similar venues; hostess bars, soaplands, love hotels, but they each cater to a slightly different crowd and provide a slightly different flavor of tawdry service. To find a straight-up strip club complete with central podium, viewing seats, and dancing poles seems a feat beyond expectation. But there it is, on a small back-road in a quiet rural area surrounded by bamboo, half-burnt to the ground and buzzing with mosquitoes.
The stripper poles still stand though it has been some time since anyone has taken a swing on them.