From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kabukich () is an entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. Kabukich is the location of many host and hostess clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, and is often called the “Sleepless Town” (). The district’s name comes from late-1940s plans to build a kabuki theater: although the theater was never built, the name stuck.
The area has many movie theaters, and is located near Shinjuku Station, Seibu Shinjuku Station, and several other major railway and subway stations.
Originally, the area was known as Tsunohazu () and was a swamp. After the Meiji Period, the area became a duck sanctuary. As the Yodobashi Purification Plant was built in 1893, the ponds were filled in. In 1920, a girl’s school was built there, and the surroundings were developed into a residential area. During World War II, the bombing of Tokyo in 1945 razed the area to the ground. After the war, a kabuki theatre was planned to be built there and the town changed its name to Kabukich. Though the theatre was cancelled due to financial problems, the name remained. Kabukich was quickly redeveloped after the war, mainly due to the efforts of the overseas Chinese in Japan who bought land left unused after the expos and greatly developed them. Examples of such people include the founder of Humax, Lin Yiwen, who started his business with a cabaret.
At present, Kabukich has transformed from a residential area to a world famous red-light district housing over three thousand bars, nightclubs, love hotels, massage parlours, hostess clubs and the like. Although referred here as a “red light district”, there are no red lights in the literal sense with prostitutes in the windows as in Amsterdam. Recently, tourism from China and Korea are on the rise, and so, many tourists can be seen in Kabukich even during daytime.
The Shinjuku Koma Theater has been a landmark in Kabukich. Now in its third building, it has hosted concerts and other performances by top stars, including enka singers Sabur Kitajima, Kiyoshi Hikawa, and actor Ken Matsudaira. The management has announced that they will close after the December 31, 2008 show.
According to a spokesperson of Metropolitan Tokyo in 2004, there are more than 1,000 yakuza members in Kabukich, and 120 different enterprises under their control.
Entering the new millennium, laws were more strictly enforced and patrols became more frequent. These, adding to the installation of fifty closed-circuit cameras in May 2002, reduced criminal activities in Kabukich, amidst controversy.
In 2004, the police undertook an operation clamping down on illegal clubs and brothels, causing many to go out of business. Also, there is a movement to rid Kabukich of the yakuza (“bad hand” gangs), known as the Kabukich Renaissance.
Kabukich is featured in a number of media:
Shinjuku Incident, a 2009 Jackie Chan movie set in the early ’90s about Chinese immigrants in Japan
Fuyajo, novel by Hase Seishu. Also, a movie based on the novel that was filmed in Kabukich
Enter the Void, a film by Gaspar No, was partly filmed and set in Kabukich
A Guide of the Sleepless Town, novel by Lee Xiaomu
In the Miso Soup, novel by Ryu Murakami
Dreaming Pachinko, novel by Isaac Adamson
“Kabukich No Jo”, song by Shiina Ringo
The School of Water Business, novel by Hikaru Murozumi
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, a role-playing video game by Atlus
Yakuza series, an Action-adventure game by Sega features a fictionalized Kabukich as Kamurocho
Ugly Americans, novel by Ben Mezrich
Pattern Recognition, novel by William Gibson
“Shin Pet Shop of Horrors”, manga by Matsuri Akino
The manga Gintama by Hideaki Sorachi is mostly focused around a fictional version of Kabukichou in the late 19th century
Tokyo Vice, book by Jake Adelstein