Old snack bar sign. Izuhara, Tsushima Island, Japan. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
This bar sign reads ‘Sunakku Sakuranbo’ which means ‘snack cherry’ in Japanese. A ‘snack’ or ‘snack bar’, refers to a kind of hostess bar, an alcohol-serving bar that employs female staff that are paid to serve and flirt with male customers. This photo was taken on a short visit to Tsushima Island, right before the beginning of spring, and cherry blossoms were already in bloom.
[Update 04/2017] When I prepared this post for instagram, I stumbled upon a series of opinion pieces in the New York Times, titled “Women’s Work and Japan’s Hostess Culture” (August 2009). It includes articles by women’s studies professor Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow, anthropologist Nobue Suzuki, sociologist Aya Ezawa, historian Vera Mackie, and author Jake Adelstein. It’s well worth a read.