Translated News, Interviews, Blogs, and More From Japan's Other Side

Tobita Shinchi, Osaka's Red Light District Part 1

Asagei Fuuzoku - Original Japanese Date: November 25th, 2014
English Translation Published: November 25th, 2015

Legally outlawed but almost never enforced best sums up the ongoing partially sanctioned unique brothel system found in the southern part of Osaka.

The Tobita Shinchi district of Osaka nestled in the less-than-savory Nishinari Ward used to be the residence of many a Samurai. Quite a few architectural relics from an era long past remain, but now the district is known for its multitude of brothels. Prostitution was once legally delegated to this area, but even with the laws uprooted for decades, the district still clings to its amorous past...

...and this is what's driving foreign tourists there in droves. With a high number of people new to the area, trouble almost certain has been brewing.

Tobita Shinchi used to be known and only known for its prostitution streets, but things have greatly changed in recent years. What's more, tourists of great number have begun to receive knowledge of this unique part of Osaka's history. We heard something unexpectedly negative from A-san, a person who works at one of the 'traditional Japanese restaurants' there (which generally are very well-known and accepted fronts for brothels):

We've seen more men begin to visit sans girlfriends and make big scenes when looking at the brothel workers (who display themselves up front such as their counterparts do in Amsterdam). I'd even hear some taunt women for supposed plastic surgery. They need to realize this is not a zoo and should act accordingly. It's embarrassing and they shouldn't come if that's how they are going to display themselves.”

About 160 ryoutei (high-end Japanese restaurants that are generally invite-only though in Tobita Shinchi's case, it also is the cover for brothels) are located in the cozy and meandering, small streets of Tobita Shinchi. Amongst these are over 1,000 registered Japanese sex workers. It's hard to fathom this all on one's first visit.


To be concluded...


(Translator's note: Tobita Shinchi is unique in how it presents its available sex workers. It's very simple and in-your-face and is very similar to the window displays found in Amsterdam. Since most websites and advertisements for brothels here rarely show the faces of the actual workers, having a living display like this be a normal part of Japanese life (for those who are in the area at least...) is quite a surprise.)

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