The Great Happiness Space


I thought that the 2006 Japanese documentary directed and shot by Jake Clennell, “The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love,” was very intersting. I didn’t see a “love thief” though I saw men selling their time and attention and women eagerly buying it. The film includes interviews both of the bar boys and their free-spending female customers. The male attendants are more like geishas who do not “put out” than like prostitutes, and at least one warns of the loss of power once he has gone all the way( been had) by a customer.

The star of the movie and of the Rakkyo Café is Issei, who, like many of the hosts, has bleached hair. His admirers pay $12 an hour to sit with him, $50/hour to be the only woman sitting with him. Plus buying the steady flow of marked-up-priced champagne.


Stringing on many often-returning admirers, Issei was making $50,000 a month, in his own words “selling dreams” of romance, and “healing” women after their hard days at work. Viewers initially see the twenty hosts as predators, but the more we hear from them and from the women, the more the customers come across as being the predators. Well, fairly masochistic predators, with some of Issei’s customers not only professing love for him but even a willingness to die for him. (They ARE Japanese….). I’d say many are in love with (being in) love, but not ready to commit to any realistic love/erotic relationship. (I’d say this applies to many swooning about romantic movies in many countries, as well!)


The DVD has no bonus features, but though short (76 minutes), the documentary digs quite deep into the inner emptiness of buyers and sellers of romantic interludes (some of the patronesses come to the bar every night). Clennel was a cinematographer before making this documentary; the cinematography and the editing (by Jushida Hisayo) are very assured.

©2016, Stephen O. Murray


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