Interviews reveal stories behind the genjina.
“What’s in a name?” some people ask, but the answer is “a lot” when you talk about men working in Japan. host club. A good hostname should be steeped in elegance, but also approachable, paving the way for popularity with regular and new customers.
Most hosts don’t work under their real name, but instead use a genjina, or “professional name.” So how do they find one? To find out, our great reporter Mr. Sato spoke with five hosts are currently working at Tokyo’s Kabukicho bar district, all staff members of clubs run by Smappa Group, to hear their stories.
● Host 1: Reiwa
Mr. Sato: So I guess you changed your name when the Reiwa period started, right? Have you decided to do it yourself?
Reiwa: Yeah, that was when the Reiwa period started, but I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. Our company also runs a pastry shop and a television crew came to report on it. My boss said “How about you appear with your name as Reiwa?” Basically, if I changed my name, I could be on TV. It took me some time, but I decided to do it, and my boss started calling me “Reiwa” too after that.
Mr. Sato: It is quite vigorous.
Reiwa: But that meant I had to be on TV, and there were people who saw me and remembered my name and still come to the club as customers, so I’m glad I changed that . In fact, when the Reiwa period started, there were many hosts who changed their name to Reiwa, but I think I’m the only one still using it.
Mr. Sato: You are a survivor. Have you ever thought about changing it again?
Reiwa: When Hosts are promoted to Executive Host positions, they begin using their last name. So when it happens to me, I plan to use “Reiwa” as my last name and my old hostname as my first name… There are still customers who call me by my old name, so I would love to do it for them.
● Host #2: Takumi Saito
Mr. Sato: Wait, is your name supposed to make you think of Takumi Saito, the famous TV series actor?
takumi: Nope. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and I’ve been using this name since I started. The manager of the club where I worked was a big fan of the manga Initial D. Its main character is called Takumi, so he gave me the same name. Regarding Saito, at that time people said that I looked like the twin actors Shota and Keita Saito, and putting them together I made Takumi Saito.
After that I asked a fortune teller to look at my name, and they said the number of strokes needed to write it was unlucky, so I changed my kanji to Takumi , from 拓海 to 工. But once actor Takumi Saito started getting popular, I had people get mad at me for not looking like him, telling me I was a shoddy impersonation.
Mr. Sato: Wow, that’s hard. But do you feel that there are also advantages to having the same name?
takumi: This makes it easier for guests to remember… Thinking about it, there used to be a lot of hosts named Takumi, usually guys with some kind of bad boy image, but nowadays there aren’t any. more so…Recently there are a lot of hosts with 夜, the kanji for “night” [pronounced “yo” or “ya”] in their names, or guys with bright, cute names.
● Host #3: Musashi
Mr. Sato: “Musashi” doesn’t sound like such a flashy name.
Musashi: It was actually “Miyamoto Musashi”.
Mr. Sato: Whoa, like the famous swordsman? Did you choose the name for yourself?
Musashi: I pulled it from the manga about Miyamoto Musashi called Vagabond. It’s easy to remember and it seems difficult.
Mr. Sato: And why do you always write it using the alphabet, instead of the Japanese text?
Musashi: It makes it easier for people to find me when they search the Internet… It’s a bit like the boy band Exile.
Mr. Sato: Have you ever thought about changing it?
Musashi: Nope. I’ve spent more than half my life as Musashi, the host, so that’s become my identity, and I’m not going to change it.
Mr. Sato: Is it partly because you admire Miyamoto Musashi?
Musashi: I guess it is. The name alone already sounds strong and masculine, and I want to be the same way.
● Host #4: Reman Aoyama
Mr. Sato: Reman is a unique name. How did you get it?
reman: When I started as a host, I planned to use my real name. Then one of my elders told me that having a hostname would be better. When working as a host, you’re a different person than you usually are, so you have a different name for each character.
But I couldn’t find a name I really liked, so I asked our club producer for advice, and he said, “You’re a oshare (in fashion) guys, so how about Oshare Man? So I was Oshare Man for a while, but that was a bit of a hard name to use.
Mr. Sato: Yes, I can imagine.
reman: Like, it’s weird to meet a new client and be all “Nice to meet you! I’m the Oshare man! So I changed it to “Reman” for two years, then when I was promoted to Executive Host, I became Reman Aoyama. For Reman, I chose the kanji 礼満, as a short version of Rei wo tsukushite manzoku shite itadaku (礼を尽くして満足して頂く, “be courteous to please others”).
Mr. Sato: I see. “Reman” is not a collection of sounds that you hear very often in Japanese.
reman: It’s true. People sometimes call me ‘Roman’ or ‘Lemon’, but I don’t get confused about it. I don’t plan on changing it either. It’s a name no one else has, so it’s easy to find me with online searches.
● Host #5: Haru Ninomae
Mr. Sato: Did you choose your name yourself?
Haru: Yeah, the Haru part anyway. In Takuya Kimura’s TV drama Pride, his character is called Haru Satonaka, and I liked his cool attitude, so I took the role of Haru from there. Also I was born in the spring [haru in Japanese]and my club manager, who is now the president of our company, recommended it, so there were a lot of overlapping reasons.
Ninomae was the last name of one of my senior hosts who I really admired, so after he retired from the industry, I took it over.
Mr. Sato: Oh, wow, like kabuki actors do! I didn’t know hosts did that kind of stuff too.
Haru: Actually, I don’t know if other hosts do this or not, but I did. I’ve heard of other hosts taking a kanji from their elder’s name and using it to make one for themselves.
Mr. Sato: Did you feel any additional pressure when you started using your eldest’s name?
Haru: I did, but in a good way. It became a source of motivation, a motivation not to smear the name. More than pressure, you could call it heightened awareness, in a positive sense… It’s a name I’m very proud of.
Although Haru was the only one to say so explicitly, Mr. Sato came away feeling that everyone he spoke to is very proud of their hostname and that every day they work hard to live up to it. expectations of their customers and themselves.