The red light districts of Japan 遊郭

The entertainment district


Kabukicho, Nakasu, Susukino so many others... And for a good reason! These are districts where some of the most famous red-light communities are located. These streets are filled with bars and adult entertainment...



Leyûkaku, from the pleasure district to cultural efflorescence

Before hosting red-light districts on the Western model, Japan had "yukaku" (pleasure district), institutionalized in the Edo period (1603-1868). Far from being simply a place of prostitution, these neighborhoods were also cultural places. Several courtesans officiating in the yukaku were educated in the performing arts, displaying a cultural refinement capable of attracting clients from high social classes such as samurai, aristocrats, or wealthy merchants.

Print of the yūkaku of Shimbara by Hiroshige


Lered light district modern

With the American occupation, the Japanese red-light districts currently known were born. Thus Kabukicho in Tokyo, the most renowned, benefited from the economic revival of Japan and attracted to him many nocturnal activities as well as members of the Japanese underworld, the yakuza. Several thousand bars, nightclubs, love hotels, and guest bars. In 2004, the Tokyo municipality estimated the number of active yakuza in the district. Other cities such as Fukuoka (and its Nakasu district) or Sapporo ( Susukino ) also have a famous red-light community.


The entrance to Kabuchiko main street

Tourist districts

The red-light districts are attracting more and more tourists. Kabukicho has thus been the object of police actions for several years, and the “Kabukicho Renaissance” movement to rid the district of its most sulfurous aspect. Many Chinese or Korean tourists can be seen there, even during the day. Similarly, a community like Nakasu is also an opportunity for a beautiful night stroll between the yatai and the neon lights of the dark bars. 

Read also : The Nakasu Kawabata district

Yatai Fukuoka

The yatai along the shores of Nakasu.


Latest Articles

Japan Visitor - senbazuru-3.jpg

Senbazuru: The Japanese art of folding 1,000 origami cranes

Senbazuru, which translates to "1,000 cranes" in Japanese, is a longstanding tradition of folding one thousand origami paper cranes.

Genkan: the traditional Japanese entryway

The genkan is a distinctive and important feature of Japanese homes and buildings, serving as a transitional space between the exterior and interior.

Japanese symbols - Exploring the fascinating world of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

The Japanese language uses a complex writing system comprised of three main types of symbols: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

See All (368)