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 …