They were called discos in the 1970s and 1980s and have been known as clubs since around the downfall of the bubble economy in the early 1990s.
These are the places where people dance to music played by DJs - hangouts for youths and networking spots for up-and-coming artists.
They are now at a crisis point.
A number of clubs, notably in Osaka, have been forced out of business since last year after police took action against them, including arresting their operators, based on the 1948 entertainment business control law.
The law obliges club operators to obtain business licenses, but many do not, because doing so would require them to close at midnight - their busiest time.
Music and dance lovers are alarmed by the seemingly sudden stiffening of police attitude, as the authorities have long given a tacit nod to such premises operating without licenses.
This Monday, members of the seminal metal band X Japan were in Odaiba rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and AKB48′s Yuko Oshima. The catch? They were all made out of wax. (Japan Times )
The parents of a nightclub worker killed in an arson fire three years ago filed a suit in the Nagoya District Court on Monday seeking damages against top members of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group. (Tokyo Reporter )
Kyodo News said Monday that it has dismissed Satoshi Kondo, 51, deputy chief of its general administration bureau and former personnel affairs division chief, for meeting individually with a female student searching for a job and doing an inappropriate act.
(Jiji Press )