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In Japan, what is a "Philippine pub" (フィリピンパブ)?

I tried googling for "Philippine pub Japan", but didn't have much luck. The Japanese edition of Wikipedia has a description, but Google Translate doesn't do a good job of translating it into English, and it's a bit verbose as well.

I'm basically after an overview of Philippine pubs, but some details I'd like to know include:

  1. Whether they still exist, or if they're a trend that has since gone out of fashion or been banned.
  2. Are they basically normal bars, part of the sex industry, or somewhere in between?
  3. If they're like hostess bars, are there any differences between them and a hostess bar that'd make visiting them worthwhile even if you've been to a hostess bar?
  4. Are foreigners generally allowed?
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2 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's a pub staffed by Filipina hostesses. All offer drinks and conversation, most do karaoke (Filipinos love their karaoke!), some have dancing and shows. The term itself doesn't connotate sexual services, although the virtue of some ladies may well be negotiable after-hours.

The phenomenon started when the bursting of Japan's economic bubble led to a steep fall in Japanese visitors to the Philippines, leading many of the people in the industry that had developed there to try their luck in Japan instead. The Philippine pub boom reached its peak in 2004, when there were over 80,000 Filipino women in Japan on "entertainer" visas.

Shortly thereafter, Japan landed on a human trafficking watchlist and started cracking down heavily on these visas, so much that by 2007 they became effectively impossible to obtain. Some pubs scraped by through finding staff who were either married to Japanese (for real or otherwise), had legal working status via some other means, abusing tourist visas or simply overstaying illegally, but obviously this put a big crimp on the industry and there aren't that many left.

(Most of the above freely translated from フィリピンパブ on the Japanese Wikipedia.)

And yes, foreigners are generally welcome, probably more so than at your average Japanese bar since most Filipinas speak decent English. But I suspect I'm not entirely alone in not really understanding the attraction of paying fairly sizable amounts of money to drink with people who are employed to pretend to like me...

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1) Yes, they still exist, if you google for the term you will find websites of such bars.

2) They are essentially normal bars with elevated prices. It is not directly a part of the sex industry since the bar as such is not directly involved in prostitution. But I guess one can debate what the definition of "Sex industry" is. Please note that there are tons of bars in Japan that make a point of having good looking girls as hostesses that simply stand across the counter from you and chat with you - with normal priced drinks.

3) The singing and Karaoke and the fact that you will be able to talk with the girls in English.

4) Yes, as jpatokal mentioned.

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