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Tokyo Red Light District – Read This Before You Go

Have you ever heard about Tokyo red light district? Do you know anything about it? Are you curious about this place? Well, the red light district mentioned here is Kabukicho. Known as a “Sleepless Town”, it seems to have a variety of appealing things for you to explore and experience. In this blog, you will get a lot of information about Kabukicho as well as many suggestions on what to do in the district. Now, let’s read it!

1. Background Information About Kabukicho

Kabukicho is a district located in Shinjuku ward in Tokyo, Japan. It was originally a vast swamp with the name ‘Tsunohazu’. In 1920, the Japanese government built a school for girls here and the surroundings were developed into a residential area. Unfortunately, the bombing of Tokyo in 1945 during World War II destroyed the area completely. After the war, a kabuki theatre was planned to be built in the district, but the construction was canceled due to financial problems. There is no kabuki theatre in existence; however, the name still remains and that’s why Kabukicho got its name. The district has developed quickly since the war ended and it is now a really fantastic place of entertainment with both daytime and night activities.

During the day, Kabukicho appears to be a quiet town with big classic theatres, batting centers, some big hotels, and restaurants. Therefore, it can be a suitable place for the whole family through the daytime. However, when the moon has risen, a strong ‘adult’ atmosphere prevails here. The night is the time when all Kabukicho’s streets become alive and the entire district is filled with luminous signboards and deafening music from the houses. There are over three thousand bars, night clubs, karaoke, massage parlors, pachinko rooms, love hotels and cabaret clubs for hosts and hostesses here. If exploring Kabukicho further, you can even discover strip-tease clubs and soaplands where prostitution sometimes happens. In this sense, you can see why Kabukicho is called the ‘red light’ district.

tokyo red light district

Kabukicho at night is totally different from it through daytime

With several pieces of information above, you have known something about Tokyo red light district right? Having read the blog so far, you may wonder what you can do when you visit Kabukicho. So, let’s continue with the second part of the blog in which you will know many interesting things to do in the district.

2. Top 10 Things To Do In Kabukicho – Tokyo Red Light District

  • Grab A Drink At Golden Gai

Golden Gai, one of the most popular drinking spots in Kabukicho, is a combination of different tumbledown bars which have their own style and atmosphere. Coming here, you can experience the elusive unpolished side of Tokyo life.

tokyo red light district

Housing many tumbledown bars of different style is the striking feature of Golden Gai

There are about 300 bars in Golden Gai for you to choose to have a seat in and enjoy your drink. If you go to the tiny bars in big groups, you may have to split up as these bars only seat single digits. Wandering through the alleyways of Golden Gai, you can clearly see that seating charges in the bars are marked on the doors and some bars do have signs saying ‘no foreigners’, ‘no tourists’, or ‘regulars only’. Therefore, one suggestion for you here is that you should pay attention to the signs and choose somewhere that really welcomes you.

  • See What’s On Offer

Strolling around Kabukicho is always fun as you can see how all of the things here work. You will see how smart some shops are because they could be a knock-off Apple store. Chosen on your iPad displays, the lucky girl will wait for you upstairs. On the other hand, some shops are not really subtle with no PG displays, but manga style.

Kabukicho houses many sex shops, girl bars, host and hostess clubs and the like. There are even special bars only for groping in this red light district. Besides, a series of JK (joshi-kosei) bars also exist here and offer various services from high school girls. However, this creepily booming business is being prevented by police with new laws.

Tokyo red light district

While strolling through Kabukicho, you can drop in a host/hostess club. It’ll be more fun!

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Piss Alley, also known as Memory Lane, is the grimier, darker and more food-oriented version of Golden Gai. Arriving here, you should think you are like a dropout and always drunk, you’ll have a lot of fun. However, you don’t know where you’ll end up. You’ll be lost in Piss Alley. Are you interested in this experience?

If you don’t want to know where you’ll end up, why not try getting lost in “Piss Alley”?

All food stalls here serve a variety of unidentifiable meat on a skewer and if you can identify it, perhaps you don’t feel like eating it.

Piss Alley is absolutely a perfect place for those who are seeking adventure with lots of beer, plenty of meat, a risk of food poisoning and new friends.

  • Spend The Night In A Love Hotel

tokyo red light district

Spending the night at a love hotel will make your time in Kabukicho unforgettable

If you want to make your night in Tokyo red light district unforgettable, try spending it in a love hotel. All kinds of weirdness are available for you to experience whether you choose the full night stay or just a ‘rest’. Depending on your budget, you can enjoy your own private Jacuzzi, costumes, in-room light shows and many more. In Kabukicho, you can find some love hotels quite unattractive, the more fancy ones such as Bali Hotel An Resort or Hotel Moana are highly respectable.

Moreover, you can visit the movie-famous Hotel Atlas which offers discounts for girl groups.

  • Get Running From Godzilla

Sitting right in the middle of Kabukicho, the giant Godzilla can be viewed from a far distance and becomes a great meeting place for everyone visiting the district. Godzilla was the official local ambassador and is now a permanent feature of Kabukicho. On occasions, he will light up and roar, which is very entertaining.

Besides, Godzilla is actually part of Gracery Hotel and you can book rooms with a view of his face or see him close up with a tour to the roof.

To have a close-up view of Godzilla, you are recommended to book a room in the Gracery Hotel

The Toho Cinema, which is in the same building as the hotel, is also a perfect place to watch movies either dubbed or subtitled on rainy days.

  • See The Robot Restaurant In All Its Glory

Being called a restaurant, the famous Robot Restaurant is not a restaurant at all. It is definitely a center of robots with lots of them and these robots are usually ridden by girls in provocative outfits with very loud music.

The price of tickets to enter here is ¥8,000, which is quite high, but you can buy cheaper tickets for under ¥5,800 by online booking.

The Robot Restaurant is specially designed to cater for tourists who desire to experience neon, modern and weird Japan. Coming here, you should take it for what it is and enjoy it.

tokyo red light district

Being called a restaurant, but it’s not. Coming here, you’ll know how weird and modern Japan is

  • Try Your Luck At A Pachinko Parlor

As a kind of legal gambling in Japan, pachinko is a very popular pastime and really addictive.

Tokyo red light district

Try your luck at a Pachinko Parlor is never boring. But, be aware that you’ll get addicted!

To begin, insert your money into the machine and wait for the happy crashing of tiny silver balls. You might win more or you might not, but it’s fun to try. Each tiny ball costs between ¥1 and ¥4, so it’s cheap if you just want to try. Your aim is to make the balls land between the pegs and the strength you use to turn the handle determines how strong they shoot out.

There can be some empty parlors which have reputations for low payouts, so be sure to avoid them. You can also check the stats on the top of each machine to find out which has the best chance of paying out.

  • Liven Up Your Night At Lockup

Lockup is a great theme restaurant for you to start your night of weirdness with eyeballs in your drinks and brains for dinner.

tokyo red light district

Enjoy your drink and still keep your wits about you as horrors can appear at any time here

A multitude of horrors will storm in to terrify you from the moment you step into the hallways with sirens and alarms to the prison-cell seating and to the zombies or monsters serving your food. So, enjoy your dinner but still keep your wits about you.

  • See 800 Years Of History At The Samurai Museum

The Samurai Museum is pretty small, but it has an impressive display of costumes, swords and other things to enjoy. The staff here are knowledgeable and they are always willing to answer all of your questions in English. Demonstrations by trained actors are also offered here and you can try on different costumes, too.

Tokyo red light district

Despite being quite small, the Samurai Museum has an impressive display of samurai costumes, swords and many other things

If you want to get deeper explanations to all sections in the museum, you can take a guided tour. The price of tickets for adults is ¥1,800 and for children is ¥800.

  • Take A Breather At Hanazono Shrine

To make your trip to Kabukicho complete, you cannot miss visiting Hanazono Shrine

Meaning “flower garden”, Hanazono Shrine is one of the most historical Shinto shrines in Japan. Built in the Edo period by the Hanazono family, it was once part of the Imperial Gardens and later had a garden growing vegetables and flowers.

There are plenty of festivals held in the shrine including the popular Bird Festival in November and the two-horse festival in February as well as traditional ones like Setsubun and the New year ceremonies. If you fancy a drink, you can go to Golden Gai by heading down to the path to the left of the complex.

3. Is Kabukicho Really Dangerous?

Being always alive and dynamic, Kabukicho has made its name up to the popular culture. However, the swindles targeting foreign tourists organized by unscrupulous tenants are making Japanese authorities worried a lot.

So, to prevent yourself from that situation, you should not accept the invitation of those pullers. Just pass by the creepy doors, you will get no fear and won’t get into any trouble.

For an overview of Tokyo red light district, let’s check out the video below

Conclusion

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with several useful information about Tokyo red light district. If you are looking for a different destination from somewhere you have been to so far with plenty of weird things to explore, Kabukicho is absolutely a perfect choice. Let’s go and enjoy everything there!

About Akira H

Akira Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.