Translated by Ken
Onnanoko Club: Queer Mecca For Cross-Dressing In Shinjuku Ni-Chome
Written by Chu
If you're interested in learning about Japan's LGBTQ community, look no further than the Shinjuku Ni-chome district in Tokyo. Nestled in this queer-friendly district, Onnanoko Club (Girls' Club) is a cross-dressing bar where the staff creates a warm and welcoming environment for all.
A Haven for Fans of Cross-Dressing
Cross-dressing is a form of self-expression practiced by a number of people in Japan. However, many in the cross-dressing community cannot engage in it openly due to fear of family rejection and social stigma. It's also challenging to find like-minded individuals.
Since opening in 2012, Onnanoko Club (Girl's Club) has been a safe haven for men who want to enjoy cross-dressing without the fear of judgment.
How to Access Onnanoko Club
The two closest stations to Onnanoko Club are Shinjuku-Sanchome Station and Shinjuku-Gyoenmae Station. The bar is a five-minute walk from both stations. From Shinjuku Station, it is about ten minutes by foot.
The Inspiration Behind the Cross-Dressing Bar
A cross-dressing party hosting between 400 to 500 people is held every month in Tokyo. However, many people want to enjoy cross-dressing every day, as well as more opportunities to connect with like-minded others and exchange cross-dressing tips. In response to this wish, Onnanoko Club opened in Shinjuku Ni-chome in September 2012.
What is Onnanoko Club?
Onnanoko Club has an eye-catching pink-themed interior. Large mirrors are hung throughout the bar so that customers can see themselves wearing their outfits.
Onnanoko Club hopes to spread awareness of the LGBTQ community in Japan and help people appreciate and better understand the features of Shinjuku Ni-chome as a neighborhood.
Choose from Various Outfits and Makeup
At Onnanoko Club, customers can choose from roughly 100 outfits, 20 wigs, and 30 pairs of high heels. You can easily rent dresses and accessories if you don't own an outfit. The bar also carries costumes from various fashion trends, such as a school girl and gyaru (gal style).
In addition to outfits, customers can try on various types of foundation, face lotion, eyeliner, and other cosmetics.
Kuriko, the owner of Onnanoko Club. Picture courtesy of Onnanoko Club
According to Kuriko, the owner of Onnanoko Club, the most popular look right now is otona fashion (a femine yet mature style) paired with natural-looking makeup.
Kuriko advises customers who would like try cross-dressing to moisturize their skin a few days before visiting the bar. If your skin is dry, the makeup will be difficult to apply and appear more powdery. The face won't appear oily if it has been properly moisturized. Bar-goers who don't have experience applying makeup can take advantage of the shop's makeup service (*an additional fee is required).
Staff and Clientele Connect as a Family
The relationship between bar employees and clientele resembles a family. It is an environment where customers can relax and feel at home.
What Are the Staff Members Like?
Hiyori, staff member at Onnanoko Club
Onnanoko Club currently has 22 employees who either work fulltime or part-time. Among the part-time staff, there are college students and stand-up comedians.
Itsuki, staff member at Onnanoko Club
A common feature among the male staff members is their interest in cross-dressing. Some of the staff have expressed their interest in transitioning to match their gender identity.
Amane Shinobu, staff member at Onnanoko Club
Currently, three employees work from Monday to Thursday and Sunday. On Friday, there are five to six staff members. On Saturday, there can be six to nine employees at the bar. According to the owner, the best day to connect and become friends with the staff is on Saturday—the busiest day of the week.
What Are the Customers Like?
Many customers who visit Onnanoko Club are men and transgender women. About 80 percent of the bar-goers are regular patrons. Some visit not only for cross-dressing, but also to have conversations with fellow cross-dressers. Others come to see the glamorously dressed staff members.
This is the only bar in Tokyo where customers can cross-dress and express their feminine persona. It is even said to bring in the highest number of cross-dressers in the world. From its popularity, the club is often selected as a place where business people have drinks or the destination for a company's after-party.
Over the last few years, Onnanoko Club has garnered global media attention, attracting customers from western countries, as well as Taiwan, and China. Aside from price lists available in English, some of the employees can speak English. If there is a language barrier, the staff will use translation apps to ensure smooth communication.
In addition to a seating charge, food and drinks cost an additional fee. Customers can also request the makeup service for an extra fee.
|Seating Charge||Women (including men in female attire) 2,000 yen, Men 3,000 yen
*Price includes outfit, wig, and makeup rental
|Drinks||From 700 yen|
|Makeup Service (Full-Face Makeup)||4,000 yen
*For customers who require application assistance
*The prices listed all include tax.
In-Store Photo Etiquette
Taking selfies and snaps of the club's interior are allowed. However, if your photo includes other customers or staff members, please ask for their permission before taking the photo. If they feature in the background, remember to blur out their faces before posting on social media.
Onnanoko Club has two sister locations in Shinjuku Ni-chome. One is Free Maison, a music bar. The other is Josokko Koishitsu, a changing room facility exclusively for cross-dressers.
Picture courtesy of Onnanoko Club
In contrast to the bright and lively atmosphere at Onnanoko Club, Free Maison is a chic, music-themed bar. This inclusive place is ideal for quietly listening to tunes and relaxing with a drink in hand. Most of the customers are cross-dressers and transgendered individuals. Find out more about Free Maison on the official website (Japanese).
Picture courtesy of Onnanoko Club
Josokko Koishitsu is a locker room where customers can store their outfits and accessories for cross-dressing. This service is popular among people who want to cross-dress after work, those who cannot keep their cross-dressing attire at home, or do not have a place to change. The locker room is open 24/7 and includes a bathroom, washing machine, sofa, and other amenities. For pricing and additional details, check the Josokko Koishitsu website (Japanese).
Step into the Culture of Cross-Dressing
Onnanoko Club is a gateway to Shinjuku Ni-chome, Tokyo's vibrant district of queer nightlife. It is loved by the cross-dressing community and appreciated by those who want to learn more about LGBTQ culture in Japan. Venture into the gender-bending world of cross-dressing on your next visit!