Nightwork by Anne Allison

Read: 7 August, 2007

This book explores how the hostess club fits into Japanese culture. It is divided into three parts: the first describes the hostessing business. The second describes Japanese corporate culture (with a strong focus on male workers). In the third section, Allison explains how she believes these two are inextricably tied together. Eventually, the practice of going to a hostess club is compared to the fraternity practice of gang rape – an odd comparison that makes some sense within the context of the book.

On the positive side, this book practices a good amount of cultural relativity. Allison frequently mentions what the Western world may be disgusted by or find weird (and often admits that she may be biased because of this), but maintains an admirable objectivity given the subject matter. No previous understanding of Japanese culture is needed as ample explanations are provided.

On the negative side, I found an over-reliance on anecdotal evidence that was rarely supported by statistics. Because of this, I would recommend it for an introductory or casual reading rather than for serious study.

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