Brigid came to Japan from Australia on a holiday visa expecting to spend three months talking to sleazy men in hostess clubs — but in a safe and supportive work environment where the remuneration made it all worthwhile.

While it may sound naive, that was the information she was given by her Australian agent. Brigid entered the deal with her eyes open, asked all the right questions and was given the right answers — the only problem was they were lies.

Within the first month of her stay she had been moved to five different clubs in areas ranging from Shingu, Wakayama Prefecture, to Yokohama — all at her own expense.

“It was only at the last club I worked at that I found the working conditions I had been promised by my agent in Australia,” Brigid said.

Brigid’s problems stemmed from the lack of control her Australian agent had over her situation here. The Australian company effectively contracted Brigid to a Japanese agent, who in turn contracted her to individual clubs.

But as Brigid was to discover, the “contracts” were often a surprise to the clubs themselves.

“After staying at the first club for a few days I was contacted by my Japanese agent and was told that I had to move on because the ‘papa-san’ wasn’t happy with me,” she said.

“I approached him about this, and he told me that I was doing very well and the only reason I was moving was because he had some more Filipino girls arriving the following week and he simply couldn’t afford me.”

The papa-san also said he had never planned on keeping Brigid for more than one week and had told Brigid’s agent as much.

The next club, in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, was perched on the side of a mountain about an hour’s walk from the nearest shop or telephone — pure isolation. The Brazilian “mama-san” tried to pressure Brigid to break her contract and sign a new one with her, which contained clauses prohibiting her from going anywhere during the day without informing her and allowing instant dismissal for any reason.

However, despite the Draconian clauses, the money was good and Brigid was considering the move when she witnessed something that immediately made up her mind.

“On my fifth night there, the mama-san put on a pornographic film and started to masturbate her customer at the table right in front of me,” Brigid said.

“I developed a sudden bladder problem and, much to the disappointment of my own customer, spent the rest of the night in the toilet.”

After contacting her Japanese agent once more and demanding she be moved, Brigid was told to sneak away from the house and find her way to the train station. There, even though she knew no Japanese and had no money, she was to board a train for Tokyo after explaining that her ticket would be paid for upon her arrival.

After some time trying to explain her predicament to the station staff, she was able to find her way to her destination where she was met by her agent. But her wanderings were not yet complete.

The next club, in Nagoya, was a quick blur for Brigid as she was in and out in the space of a couple of days, this time with a warning from her Japanese manager that if she did not stop getting “fired” from every club, she would be sent back to Australia with no money — a fate that many girls apparently face.

Not me, thought Brigid, who was determined to go down fighting. She informed both her Australian and Japanese agents that further problems would result in her contacting the authorities — deportation or not.

Brigid’s penultimate club was in Tokyo and reportedly “very beautiful.” She would be put in this nice club, despite all the trouble she’d caused, she was told, but in return she would not be entitled to her full wage or the food allowance that was part of her contract.

The situation proved to be anything but beautiful. The mama-san also later told her that she had not asked for a new girl and had no knowledge of Brigid until she rang the doorbell.

“The new club had moldy walls, rotting holes in the floorboards that were covered with scrappy bits of carpet, so you had to be very careful where you walked. And cockroaches everywhere — they literally ran over your feet while you were with customers,” Brigid said.

The accommodation was even worse. “I shared an apartment with seven Filipino girls, which was just big enough to fit four single mattresses side by side on the floor. It was also home to a few thousand cockroaches. I had to shake my clothes off every time I took them out of my suitcase,” Brigid said.

Finally having had enough, Brigid called her Japanese agent and threatened police intervention if they did not move her. Within 30 minutes, her Australian agent called her and said she had a new agent in Japan.

The new agent was everything the previous one had not been. Brigid spent the remainder of her three months ensconced in a club in Yokohama where she was finally able to see the good aspects of hostessing. Despite that, it is not an experience she would care to repeat.

“For the majority of girls, it is purely a money-making venture, and your appreciation of the Japanese culture is limited by being surrounded by desperate Japanese men,” Brigid said.

“You are constantly aware that you are only here for a short time, and I have heard many girls compare it to a prison sentence.”

While Brigid did not experience any physical danger during her stay, there are always stories passed around among the girls.

“Recently there was a story about a girl, Aussie I think, who was locked in a hotel room by the yakuza and repeatedly raped over the course of three or four days and finally had to escape by jumping from a third-floor balcony, breaking ribs and smashing her ankle.”

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