Like many haunts in Shinjuku Ni-chome, Tokyo’s gay quarter, Onnanoko Club (Girls’ Club) seeks to provide a home from home for its clientele, with staff chatting at ease with customers to take their minds off the stresses of daily life.
The smiling hostesses are decked out in tasteful, carefully chosen outfits, with immaculate makeup and hairstyles.
Only one element of the stylish Japanese woman’s arsenal is missing — nail art. Their neatly trimmed but bare fingernails are the only hint that outside of the bar, the staff dress and act as society expects every man to do.
Manager Kuriko, 31, sits poised on a low pink sofa with all the mannerisms of a confident young woman, but describes himself as a man and goes by male pronouns.
“In my private life I’m a man, of course, and I dress as a woman for work — it’s both incredibly tiring and incredibly satisfying,” the former real estate agent explained over an iced tea.
Kuriko feels fulfilled when he sees regular customers gradually grow more confident in themselves before his eyes.
“Perhaps the first time they come, they won’t dress up but will just sit quietly and observe others. Then next time they’ll dress up, realize how good they look, and over repeated visits they’ll come out of their shell,” he said.
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