Tokyo Underbelly: A Link List


If you have seen photographs of neon-soaked Tokyo streets, you have most likely seen Shinjuku, and if you know anything about Shinjuku, you will know Kabuki-cho. Kabuki-cho is Tokyo’s notorious red-light center, Nobuyoshi Araki’s ‘Lucky hole’. A stroll through this district is a hedonistic assault on the senses; vying for your attention are the Hostess bars, Image Clubs Pink Salons and the ubiquitous Yakuza members, touts and barkers. But now that Tokyo is bidding for the 2016 Olympics, its Governor has decided that a clean up is in order. Fortunately there is resistance to the idea of a sanitized Kabuki-cho, expat Max Hodges who describes the atmosphere as “carnival-like” has put together an audio guide to the area, featuring interviews with a Kabuki-cho tout, a bar owner, a regular and a rope bondage artist. The tour, which has been well received by Tokyo bloggers, is intended to give listeners an insight into this notorious part of Tokyo, while at the same time dispelling some of the stereotypes it has accrued.

Karen is from the UK and currently lives in Hawaii. She has an MA from University College London and has been published in Spread magazine, Trazzler and Cantaraville. More from this author →