Kabukichō is one of the liveliest – albeit slightly dodgy- night-life spots in Tokyo. It is located in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo and well known as a red-light district.
The area became a popular night-time hangout during the 60s and 70s. Some laws changed during the 80s, and a lot of the more innocent places closed down – leaving businesses like host and hostess clubs to thrive.
Street hawkers and restaurant promoters are not operating legally. Moreover, they often offer opportunities like cheap drinks and beautiful women or handsome men that might be hard to pass up. Do. These are often misleading to get you in and get you to spend a bunch of money.
Kyabakura – Hostess and host clubs could be misleading. The hostesses and hosts are friendly and welcoming. Be aware, though, that their main focus is the cash in your pocket more than your sparkling personality. They usually keep you around and offer you drink after drink that will soon add up to a huge bill. These clubs often have a high entrance fee, and patrons will have to pay for drinks, as well as the company of a host or Hostess on top of that. Even just spending time conversing with a host or Hostess can run up quite a bill.
A lot of the bars cater to locals only. These establishments do not necessarily state that no foreigners are allowed; instead, all this signage is written in Japanese. Having said that, foreigners would be able to visit one of these establishments if accompanied by a Japanese friend or if you speak Japanese.
Kabukichō Has a variety of bars and restaurants, including karaoke places. It is also well known for its themed venues, in particular the Robot restaurant, where you can enjoy a meal while watching a show of robots mixed with bikini-clad Japanese dancers. There are even several horror-themed restaurants and bars and some exciting nightclubs to visit.
Golden Gai is a bar area near Kabukichō. Here visitors can enjoy an authentic Japanese bar scene. You can even visit an absinthe bar in this area.
Nearby is the famous Hachiko (the dog) statue, outside the Shibuya station. Looming over Kabukichō is a statue of Godzilla. The Gracery Hotel offers rooms with a view of his face and roof-top tours where you can see this icon up-close.
The area has plenty to see and experience, even if you don’t visit one of the adult-oriented venues. If you do, though, there is plenty to pick from. From sex shops to bars for groping, to love hotels.
While Kabukichō is well-known as a red-light district, there are plenty of ‘more innocent’ things to do.
A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com