Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

By Lieba Faier | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Sites of Encounter

In my morning newspaper, I occasionally found fliers for local Filipina hostess bars. Printed in dark red ink on glossy white paper, one such ad featured a large eye-catching photograph of seven women: Four were smiling, two had serious expressions, and one seemed to be caught off guard by the camera. Five of the women, standing on a stage, were dressed in white spandex pantsuits with beaded detail and low-cut spaghetti-strap tops, posed in a line like Las Vegas showgirls, their hips sharply angled toward the camera, front knees cocked. The two women sitting in front, their crossed legs hanging off the stage, wore similar outfits in black. Printed in bold Japanese lettering, the caption read: “Cabaret Boracay’s First Year Anniversary Gratitude Service. Thanks to you, we have made it through our first year. We would like to earnestly thank all for their support. We are trying to be even more ‘inexpensive and friendly’ so we hope you will increase your patronage. From the owner and employees together.” And below the photograph: “One complimentary reserve bottle. Shows daily!”

The flier, sandwiched between local advertisements and announcements—town hall and community center notices about regional events, ads for sales at the local kimono store and the neighborhood shoe and sportswear shops, and fliers from grocers listing the week’s specials: fuji apples, three for ¥200, or salmon, 200 grams for ¥500—reminded me that Filipina hostess bars were embedded in the mundane practices of everyday life in Central Kiso. The flyer from a local shoe shop had pictures

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