The staff served drinks, made small talk, and played PS3 games with customers. They not only went on dates, they also broke the law. This week, the manager of a schoolgirl themed "girls' bar" was arrested for employing actual schoolgirls.
Koichiro Fukayama, 44, managed an AKB48 inspired schoolgirl establishment called AKB162 and allegedly violated Japan's Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses by running an unlicensed girls' bar that employed minors; three teens-aged 15 to 16—were also picked up by the police.
The bust was part of a nationwide crackdown on girls' bars.
As website The Tokyo Reporter points out, a girls' bar is similar to a hostess bar, but registered as an after-hours eating-and-drinking establishment to avoid stricter regulations that covers hostess bars and the sex industry.
Girls' bars, however, offer hostess-like services in that patrons are not only paying for food and drink, but also for companionship and conversation. (Note that at hostess clubs, and girls' bars for that matter, sexual services are not offered.) Employing anyone under the age of 18 is strictly prohibited.
Teenagers can get part time jobs in restaurants, but these types of venues are a definite no-no. They are essentially hostess bars, and teens cannot, and should not, work in such establishments that are geared entirely for adult entertainment. But that was AKB162's chief attraction: this bar allowed customers to meet and talk to underage girls, making comic book, video game, and pop music fantasies real.
Japanese site Akiba Blog has photos of schoolgirls in their actual school uniforms passing out fliers on the streets of Akihabara. The fliers read, "You can take a stroll and play the PS3 with girls!" So, you could take a 60 minute walk for ¥6,000 (US$75) or play PS3 games for the same time for ¥5,000 ($63).
The photos were taken at night and it's rainy, and you can help but wonder why their parents weren't worried about their daughters. Maybe they were.
At AKB162, twenty underage girls were on staff, and the establishment offered customers conversation as well as the chance to play PS3 games, take walks, or even go on dates with the schoolgirls. In short, it offered compensated dating, which is something that get people arrested in Japan—and rightly so.
Schoolgirl characters appear throughout Japanese popular culture for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean they should appear throughout the country's nightlife.