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Kabuki-cho, Tokyo’s Red-Light District

Kabuki-cho Host Club

Kabuki-cho Host Club

Kabuki-cho is Tokyo’s entertainment and red-light district. It is located on the east side of Shinjuku Station, it is literally on the other side of the railroad tracks from the government buildings and corporate offices of West Shinjuku.

Party Time - Kabuki-cho

Party Time – Kabuki-cho

Kabuki-cho is filled with bars, restaurants, and the infamous host and hostess clubs. Some of the establishments are run or controlled by the Yakuza and there are numerous stories of people having a couple of drinks in a bar and then being given an unexpectedly large bill.

All Shapes and Sizes - Kabuki-cho

All Shapes and Sizes – Kabuki-cho

Signs for different clubs fill the streets with the pictures of various hosts and hostesses on display. There are also a surprisingly large number of florists. It turns out that customers often buy roses for their favorite host / hostess along with huge floral displays for birthday parties and the opening of a new club.

Kabuki-cho  - Say it with flowers

Kabuki-cho – Say it with flowers

Other stores provide customers with gifts that are cringeworthy. Although, if you like crocodile skin and things encrusted with fake diamonds, you’d be in retail heaven.

Kabuki-cho - Bearing Gifts

Kabuki-cho – Bearing Gifts

Some establishments have signs saying JAPANESE ONLY. Large guys with mangled ears guard the doors of many clubs, and would probably be more than happy to relieve you of your money, your kidneys and your camera. Tourists are pretty safe wandering around, and a very convenient Toyoko Inn hotel is located in Kabuki-cho. However, descend the pink steps or open that windowless door, and I’ve no idea how deep that rabbit-hole goes.

Kabuki-cho - Stairway to Heaven or Road to Hell

Kabuki-cho – Red-Light Stairway

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Travel writer and photographer living in Okinawa, Japan

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