An Introduction to "Membership Lounge" in Japan: A Comprehensive Guide

Drink
March 26, 2024

In this article, we will share insights about the fascinating world of "Membership Lounge" in Japan with you! We delve into the details of what is a membership lounge which is similar to a luxury clubs or hostess bars. When searching for these establishments in Japan, simply copy and paste the term "会員制ラウンジ" (which translates to "Membership Lounge") and append the name of your desired location.

What is a "Membership Lounge"?

A "Membership Lounge" is a unique concept where male and female members meet, engage in conversations, dine, and enjoy drinks together. In this setting, male members bear all expenses while female members are not required to pay fees. In fact, they receive a salary from the lounge, with some earning over 10,000 yen per hour. At first glance, it might resemble a dating bar that employs fake customers, but it is more akin to a luxurious club without traditional entertainment services.

From a business perspective, "Membership Lounges" share similarities with a high class girls bars, "Kyabakura" and luxury clubs. However, if you are unfamiliar with these terms, differentiating between them can be challenging. Additionally, outside the Tokyo metropolitan area, certain regions refer to large snack bars and mini clubs as "Membership Lounges," further complicating matters.

In this article, we will delve into the distinctive features of "Membership Lounges" and explain how they differ from luxury clubs and "Kyabakura."

Differences in Services

Luxury clubs and "Kyabakura" typically involve entertainment aspects, such as female employees serving water, lighting cigarettes, and providing hand towels to customers. On the other hand, "Membership Lounges" facilitate chance encounters between male and female members. Once they establish a connection, they sit together, share food and drinks, and engage in conversation without involving any formal entertainment services. Essentially, female members are treated as customers themselves.

Unlike the setup at a "Kyabakura," where female employees have specific tasks and face sales quotas or penalties, the female members at "Membership Lounges" are considered customers themselves. They do not partake in tasks like serving drinks or clearing ashtrays. The distinction lies in their business license, as "Membership Lounges" do not provide formal entertainment services. The ambiance is more relaxed, and female members have the freedom to dress casually, work at their convenience, and are not obligated to share personal contact information with customers.

Age Range of Female Employees

The age range of female employees in "Membership Lounges" is broadest in luxury clubs, spanning from early 20s to late 30s. The age range of female employees in both "Kyabakura" and "Membership Lounges" is similar, typically ranging from early twenties to late twenties.

The Allure of "Membership Lounges"

To put it simply, the allure of a "Membership Lounge" can be described as a place where you can enjoy the company of incredibly beautiful women. Admittedly, both luxury clubs and "Kyabakura" feature many attractive and charming women. However, some "Membership Lounges" in metropolitan areas, for example, Roppongi, Ebisu, and Nishi-Azabu, employ exceptionally beautiful women, with some being gravure idols, models, race queens, or up-and-coming talents.

How Customers are Served in "Membership Lounges"

While "Kyabakura" follows a one-on-one service model, with one woman dedicated to serving one customer, "Membership Lounges" operate similarly to luxury clubs, where several female employees may serve a single customer. Additionally, many "Membership Lounges" have a prominent figure known as the "Mama" who represents the establishment.

Pricing at "Membership Lounges"

The pricing at "Membership Lounges" can vary significantly. Some rural lounges offer a 60-minute all-you-can-drink package for as little as 3,000 yen, while certain Tokyo "Membership Lounges" charge 5,000 yen for a 60-minute session. Hence, it is always advisable to check the prices on the establishment's website before visiting.

There are nine primary types of fees at "Membership Lounges." Here is a summary to provide clarity:

  1. Membership registration fee (first-time only): Free to 20,000 yen.
  2. Annual membership fee (once a year): Free to 10,000 yen.
  3. Set fee (60 minutes): 3,000 yen to 50,000 yen.
  4. Extension fee (30 minutes): 1,500 yen to 25,000 yen.
  5. Nomination fee: 1,000 yen to 5,000 yen.
  6. Drinks and food charges: Starting from 1,000 yen. (Note: Expensive champagnes can reach up to 500,000 yen per bottle, so verify prices before ordering.)
  7. Private room usage fee (VIP room usage fee): 20,000 yen to 50,000 yen. (Note: Some establishments charge an additional fee for using the set, so confirm before usage.)
  8. Service fee: 15% to 30%.
  9. Tax: 8%.

These are the fee breakdowns. It is worth mentioning that extending your stay might be slightly cheaper when accompanied by a nominee. Therefore, it is advisable to inquire about this option in advance.

Typically, if you opt for a venue where the set price is around 20,000 yen instead of an expensive "Membership Lounge," and if you and your company refrain from extravagant drinks, you can enjoy yourself for approximately 50,000 yen per person. However, keep in mind that many "Membership Lounge" employees aspire to meet wealthy individuals and become their mistresses. Therefore, if you demonstrate financial stability to a woman you are interested in, it becomes significantly easier to establish a deeper connection or even pursue a physical relationship.

Customer Base of "Membership Lounges"

While ordinary lounges in rural areas accept anyone with financial means, "Membership Lounges" in Tokyo typically require a screening process for membership acceptance. Consequently, the customer base in Tokyo's "Membership Lounges" comprises individuals who have successfully met the lounge's suitability criteria.

The clientele at "Membership Lounges" predominantly comprises affluent individuals, with a higher concentration of young patrons ranging from their late 20s to late 30s. Some prominent figures, such as celebrities, athletes, and even executives from renowned IT companies, can be found among the patrons.

Is the customer base impressive? The customer base at "Membership Lounges" may fall slightly short in comparison to luxury clubs. While wealth at a young age is commendable, possessing dignity and proper manners is equally important. Unfortunately, some individuals with less desirable behavior have been encountered, which can be off-putting for others seeking a sophisticated social experience.

A female employee at a "Membership Lounges" shared valuable insights. Esteemed members of society often frequent various types of lounges based on their specific needs. When aiming to entertain clients in a professional setting, they choose luxury clubs. However, if they desire a more private drinking experience, they opt for "Membership Lounges." This distinction resonated with me. The female employees at lounges are not expected to provide high-level entertainment or exhibit exceptional conversational skills and attentiveness.

Dress Code in "Membership Lounges"

Although "Membership Lounges" are not as strict as luxury clubs, it is recommended to adhere to smart casual attire. While entry is generally permitted even if you are dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, avoid excessively casual attire that might make you stand out and feel out of place in the refined ambiance.

Who is Suited for "Membership Lounges"

  • Individuals who wish to engage in conversations with models and celebrities.
  • Those who prioritize looks when interacting with women.
  • Financially well-off individuals who enjoy spending time with women.
  • People who can overlook a lack of refinement in exchange for the company of beautiful women.
  • Individuals who prefer to pursue relationships with non-professional women.
  • Serious individuals seeking a mistress.
  • Those who prefer a relaxed atmosphere without elaborate dress codes.
  • Individuals who appreciate the presence of a "Mama" figure but desire a less intimidating environment than traditional clubs.
  • People who seek privacy and enjoy drinking in comfortable, spacious private rooms.
  • Individuals who prefer extended periods of relaxation on large and comfortable sofas.

Who is NOT Suited for "Membership Lounges"

  • Individuals seeking a meticulously attentive environment for entertaining others.
  • Those who prefer a tranquil environment with predominantly mature clients in their 50s and 60s.
  • People who dislike unprofessional customer service from female employees.
  • Individuals with limited financial means, time constraints, or emotional availability.
  • Individuals seeking physical contact with female employees within the establishment.
  • Those who struggle with engaging in conversations with younger women.

Characteristics of Unwanted Customers in "Membership Lounges"

  • Customers with disruptive drinking habits who display verbal abuse.
  • Unhygienic individuals with unpleasant breath or body odor.
  • Customers who inappropriately touch female employees.
  • Individuals who consistently invite female employees to hotels.
  • Customers who remain uncommunicative, making conversations difficult.
  • Customers who incessantly preach or boast about themselves.
  • Customers who refuse to allow female employees to order food or drinks.
  • Persistent attempts to extract personal information from female employees.

Locations of "Membership Lounges"

If we consider locations that refer to large "snack bars” and mini clubs as lounges, there are likely over 10,000 such lounges in entertainment districts across Japan. However, when exclusively considering "Membership Lounges," there are only around 70 establishments in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Confirmed locations include Nishi-Azabu, Roppongi, Akasaka, Ebisu, Ginza, Aoyama, Shinjuku, and Kinshicho.

Summary

What do you think of the world of "Membership Lounges" in Japan? It is essential to approach these establishments with different intentions. When entertaining important clients, luxury clubs are more suitable, whereas casual drinks with friends may call for "Membership Lounges" or "Kyabakura."

Moreover, compared to luxury clubs and "Kyabakura," it may be easier to gauge the potential for a deeper connection or physical intimacy with a female employee from a "Membership Lounge."

This distinction arises because luxury clubs and "Kyabakura" focus on enticing customers to spend money by creating a specific atmosphere and engaging in playful interactions.

In contrast, female employees at "Membership Lounges" do not need to exert such efforts to market themselves. Consequently, they interact with customers naturally, making it evident whether or not they are genuinely interested. If a female employee takes the initiative and asks for your contact information, you may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to develop a closer relationship or engage in a physical encounter. (laughs)

Thank you for joining me in this exploration of "Membership Lounges" in Japan. Until next time!

PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer, a seasoned connoisseur in his 40s based in Japan, boasts an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience within the vibrant landscapes of both drinking and gambling, alongside his well-documented ventures into various red-light districts. This extensive exploration encompasses not just the nocturnal delights of Japan's red-light areas but also its myriad of bars, horse racing, pachinko, and many others. Drawing on his firsthand experiences, he conveys the appeal and characteristics of Japan's diverse adult entertainment districts and his enjoyment of the nightlife scene through his writing for PIJ.

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