G4- Attack of the Show Reveals Racism in Japan’s Red Light District October 3, 2006Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discrimination, Japanese, Racism, Racist.
There are two red-light districts in Tokyo. Roppongi, which is well known to be the hangout of every tourist in town, and Kabuki-cho (????) which is tokyo’s largest (and seediest) place of perversion. I had heard so many stories about the sex culture in Tokyo, and I’m “sukebe” (loosely translated into “man who likes sex”)…so when I found out that Kabuki-cho was just a few short blocks from my hotel, I had to check it out.
What I found was exactly what I was looking for, but it may have been the most frustrating experience I’ve had in Japan so far. I had been to Roppongi once before, and it struck me as more of a bar and club district than a red-light district. It was filled with bars, clubs, restaurants that are all crammed full of everyone in japan who isn’t Japanese. I’ve never met more Sweeds, Germans and French as I did in Roppongi. When I turned that corner in Shinjuku to enter the Kabuki-cho district, I felt like the only “gai-jin” (foreigner) for miles. Ok, no problem…if I can handle myself in the streets of Hollywood, how hard can this be, right? Wrong.
Lining the streets were a gazillion bars, noodle shops, love hotels (that you rent by the hour), pink salons (where you rent women by the activity or hour in a private booth) and hostess clubs (where women come sit with you to keep you drinking and entertained). That’s great! The problem is that in those streets are a ton of Japanese people who didn’t want me there. And I mean, didn’t want me there, at all!
Everywhere in the streets are “touters”, bar and club employees in suits handing out flyers that advertise hot sweaty sex, massages, hotels, prostitutes, etc… They all want to rope you into their club or bar which is fine, but when we would get to the door, a bouncer would inevitably meet me there, arms crossed in an X saying “Japanese Only!” as they shut the door in our face. Those that didn’t speak enough English to shoo me away yelled at us in Japanese. I know enough Japanese to know when I’m being called “gai-jin”, “amerika-jin” (American), or Bak-ka Ichi-ban (most stupid) or some things far worse. Needless to say I was not welcome anywhere. I would get as far as the door, see the girls pictures on the walls of the salons or the lines of booths where dirty things might happen but I didn’t actually get to step foot into a single one.
Even in the streets I was given dirty looks by the scores of prostitutes, drunken salary-men and the incredibly well dressed and tattooed Yakuza. When they started taking a more active role in watching, and then following me…I knew my visit had come to an end. I did find a 24 hours McDonalds in the middle of all of this insanity, so I plopped down my 330 yen for a teriyaki burger (yum) and tried not to be too discouraged about my lack of success. Afterward I wound my way through the alleys of Shinjuku back to my hotel and took the long elevator ride to the cold shower that was waiting for me. I should have gone to Roppongi, where apparently all of the same things exist, you just have to look past the packed clubs and be willing to fight with Sven or François for a seat in the hostess club.