Public Safety in Japan: Tokyo Red-light Districts



Japan ranks as one of the world’s safest countries having a low crime rate. And Tokyo is one of the lively hotspots for night owls to go out for night entertainments, which are close to the red-light areas. However, it’s only the largest, most notorious red-light districts that are considered dangerous. But fear not, as this article will guide you to some neighborhoods that have a bad reputations.

  • 01

    Kabukicho (Shinjuku)

    Shinjuku is one of the largest shopping districts in Tokyo. It is one of the must-visit places for tourists in Tokyo too. However, Kabukicho, located in the northeast of Shinjuku is known as the largest red light district in Asia with many bars, restaurants, karaoke and clubs. However, it's also home to the underworld establishments and it is not surprising to see riot police casually walking down the street on patrol to maintain the safety of the district.

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  • 02


    Roppongi is an upscale office and residential area but also an infamous nightlife area. It is completely safe during the day but after sun down, the area can get a bit sketchy. However, popular shopping complexes like Roppongi Hills and Midtown are close by and from day to night, the area is filled with locals and tourists.

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  • 03

    Ikebukuro North Side

    Ikebukuro's East exit is home to shopping malls such as Sunshine City and Q-Plaza and attracts many locals and visitors. However the north side is a bit sketchy with many underworld establishments.

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  • 04

    Maruyamacho (Shibuya)

    Shibuya is a massive neighborhood filled with shopping complexes, restaurants, bars and cinemas but probably most famous for its busiest pedestrian crossings known as the scramble crossings. However, there are several red-light areas that are not suitable for families and children to take a visit, especially an area between Dogenzaka and Bunkamura Streets called Maruyamacho which are filled with “love hotels”.

    Tokyo Shibuya-ku Dogenzaka 2-chome
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  • 05

    Hyakunincho (Shin-Okubo)

    Hyakunincho is an area in Shin-Okubo which is a walking distance from the red-light distcit, Kabukicho in Shinjuku. It is not uncommon to see drunken people sleeping on the road and many homeless lying down here and there.

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  • 06

    Akabane (East Side)

    Mostly residential areas with traditional shopping districts and small izakayas, the east of Akabane station is considered a red-light district with a lot of people who didn't deem the area safe.

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  • 07

    Uguisudani (Ueno)

    Ueno is a well-known sightseeing area in Tokyo with museums, a beautiful park and a unique busy open-air market street along the Yamanote Line tracks known as Ameyoko Market. However, sitting at the north end of a huge tourist destination, Ueno Park, lies an area called Uguisudani. The north side is considered the red-light district with many “love hotels”.

    鶯谷駅 北口
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  • 08

    Types of People to Avoid

    If you encounter a "stranger" talking to you on the streets of Japan, be sure to "ignore" or shout "NO" as they could be one of the followings

    1) "Kyakuhiki" which literally means "customer puller" and refers to the staff of bars, pubs, and izakaya (restaurants with extensive alcoholic beverage options) who stand out on the street and attempt to corral passersby into their establishments. While they don't resort to literally pulling people into their bars, some will follow you down the street pestering you with questions. Have courage to say "No".

    2) Scouting
    This term is used to describe males whose work involves approaching young women on the street, and, using offers of lucrative remuneration as bait, attempt to recruit the women into underground businesses.

    3) Free Information Service "無料案内所Muryo Annai-jyo"
    In Japan, the word "無料案内所" often seen in nightlife quarters does not refer to the free information center like a tourist information center where you see in shopping malls. Instead, its more sketchy and a red-light place where you can know which brothel is suitable for you.

    4) Host
    Host refers to a young man who sit, pour drinks(usually alcohol) and talk to their patrons in a bar/lounge type establishment called a "host club"in exchange of money.

    5) Drug Trafficking
    Drugs are strictly forbidden and illegal in Japan, however, there are news report with trafficking in illegal drugs in the red-light districts, most famous example is the Roppongi district.

  • 09

    How to avoid dangerous situations?

    Although Japan is considered a very safe destination for tourists, you should still use your common sense to avoid trouble. We recommend a few simple precautions to keep you safe on your travels.
    -Avoid going out by yourself at night to quiet, unlit and red-light areas especially when you don’t know your way around.
    -Keep your valuables out of sight or close to you and zipped out as there have been some cases of bag snatching in Japan.
    -Don’t carry a lot of cash on you at one time. Distribute it between the hotel safe, your wallet and a pocket so that you won’t lose it all if your bag is taken or you are pickpocketed.
    -Know which areas is the red-light district before travelling
    -Never leave your drink unattended when you’re out, and never accept any food or drink from a stranger, unless you can see the barman pouring it or the waiter serving it.
    -Avoid letting people know where you are staying and be very cautious of anyone asking for your personal details without sufficient cause.

    Alterntively, you can also connect directly to a hotline for ambulances, fires, and police via the Japan Travel by NAVITIME Emergency Call

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