Tutoring one high school student was not enough to sustain my unruly lifestyle in Tokyo, so I searched for an additional source of income. I came across a hand-written hiring ad pasted on the outside wall of a two-story building in my neighborhood. The ad belonged to the one downstairs, which was almost half-basement. The sign of the place said, “Pub Kubo.” The job was for women in their 20s to 40s, and the hourly rate was 1,500 yen, nearly double of standard rate other college students were earning in their humble jobs. I figured it wouldn’t hurt finding out the details, so I called the number on the ad. The owner, a woman, asked me to come to the place to meet with her.
We met at 6 pm when the place opened, but there were few customers. The owner was about 50 years old, but with her jet-black hair done in a bun and her glowing, almost-bare skin with few lines, she was youthful and beautiful in a very wholesome way.
The place was small, probably 20 person capacity, including three staff rotated to work daily. There were long velvet sofas on three sides, and the bar counter had a few stools. The single gender-free bathroom was tucked in the corner by the entrance. There was an old model of the karaoke machine that you had to change the laser disk each time. The only thing that was fresh and new was the Casablanca lilies placed at the end of the bar counter, and their scent filled the entire space.
The owner and I sat down, and she explained what the job entailed.
1) I’d sit across the table from customers and pour beer / make whisky water.
2) I’d converse with the customers.
3) I’d take karaoke song orders and change laser disks for them. I could sing if the situation allowed.
4) I could drink with the customers, but I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to.
5) I could wear anything but jeans/t-shirts/sport shoes.
I realized the job was similar to what my sister did, but I judged from the much lower hourly rate, the size and atmosphere of the place, and the fresh-faced owner, there must have been a distinct line between the so-called hostess bars and Pub Kubo. I probably didn’t need the same level of commitment as my sister had on her job.
The owner sensed my summation of the job and said, “you can do it.” So I decided to start a few days later.