Learning from Kitashinchi’s “Yamana-mama” about Spaces Where Adults Socialize

Kitashinchi, Western Japan’s top nightlife district, is on a par with Ginza in the east. Particularly renowned is Club Yamana, a drinking establishment with a long history that is frequented by leading figures in political and business circles. Kazue Yamana, still active and energetic at the age of 88, spoke to us about the charms of Kitashinchi, its role as a hub for adult social interactions, and the esoteric art of entertaining customers.

A legendary figure who has been part of Kitashinchi through the years

Rather surprisingly, Kazue Yamana told us that music was actually the reason why she started working at a nightclub at the age of 24.

“Latin American music was very popular at that time and I was a fan of the Mexican group Los Panchos. I was thrilled to hear that they were coming to Japan and would play three nights in a club in Doyama, Osaka. I really wanted to see them, and the club was kind enough to hire me as a hostess for just those three nights. The music was of course wonderful, but, more than that, the customers who came to the club were the kind of people I would never usually meet or famous people you read about in the newspapers. I was captivated by their charm and decided to continue working there.”

After two months as a hostess at the Doyama nightclub, Ms. Yamana started work at a club in Kitashinchi. She continued to gradually build her career after that, sometimes changing clubs and sometimes being headhunted, until she established her own nightclub in 1968. At around the same time as she launched Club Yamana, in private life she gave birth to a son.

Seven years later, 1975, was a huge turning point in Ms. Yamana’s life. She was able to take over the location of Club Ota, a famed high-class drinking establishment of the day. It is now the location of Club Yamana, the nightclub she still runs today and which is now in its 56th year. It is widely-known as a Kitashinchi landmark beloved by many VIPs, including politicians, business owners, celebrities, and executives of major corporations.

“I’ve never once thought of quitting. The gentlemen who come to drink at the club of an evening are so full of life. I believe I have got this far because I find them so delightful.”

Even at the age of 88 she still comes to work every day and interacts with the clientele

On the day of our interview, Ms. Yamana made her appearance dressed in kimono, her hair carefully styled and her nails gleaming, her youthful looks and beauty belying her age. We were amazed to hear that she still comes to work every day.

“It doesn’t have to be me if it is just a case of drinking and having fun, but gentlemen who seem to want to hear more of my stories enjoy my company. After all, I’ve run this club in Shinchi for 56 years and have seen and experienced so much.”

After the club has closed for the night, she does tasks such as sorting out the checks and gets home at two or three in the morning at the earliest. Ms. Yamana is also vice president of Kitashinchi Syakou Ryouin Kyoukai (an association of local food and drink establishments) and attends gatherings and national general meetings, so she is very active outside of her nightclub as well.

Remember to feel grateful. Create a place people will want to visit as a regular

“Throughout the ages, men have always been expected to do their very best. A man who focuses on finding somewhere inexpensive won’t come to Kitashinchi. Times may change, but there will always be ‘kaishomon’* who push themselves hard, and it is people like that who will come for a drink. There are plenty of people who want to treat themselves for just one evening, and I think that the skill of a hostess is revealed by whether she can make them continue to feel like that. Nobody intends right from the start to visit a club every night, and a hostess tries her best to get them to come once a week. Customers are aware when they come to the club that it will be expensive, so hostesses must make every effort to make the experience live up to their expectations. If a hostess encourages spending just because someone can afford it, customers will definitely see right through her. This is a fast-paced era, isn’t it? I’m truly delighted that customers come to our club in such hectic times, and I get to meet all sorts of people thanks to my work. Heartfelt gratitude shines through in our faces. I want to convey that mindset to young hostesses as well.”

* Kaishomon: Osaka dialect for someone you can rely on.

Information as of June 2024.


Club Yamana

Floors 4 & 5, Yamana Bldg., 1-6-19 Sonezakishinchi, Kita-ku, Osaka
8:00 pm to last orders
Closed Sundays and public holidays


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