(17) Yoshiwara: traditional red-light district

the tokyo files 東京ファイル

Yoshiwara 2013 Pepper mint club bouncers

Welcome to Tokyo

There’s an intersection in Shimbashi that is a microcosm of Tokyo. On the four corners are a FamilyMart, a pachinko parlor, an old mall, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken…and often a handful of Chinese prostitutes. In September 2011, when I first moved to Japan, I was walking through Shimbashi on my way home from work. Rounding the corner from Sotobori Dori 外堀通り I saw a woman standing on the sidewalk, facing the street. As I passed she said ‘ma-sāji’ (massage), the universal Asian word for trouble. I had been living in Japan for just 3 days and knew virtually nothing of Tokyo, but based on this experience I figured I was in for quite an adventure.

Shimbashi 新橋 (or Shinbashi) has a reputation as a salaryman サラリーマン neighborhood, which means lots of izakaya 居酒屋 and ramen shops. This is no Ginza. There are no fancy shops…

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