The Tokyo Reporter

Foreign tourists reshape Tobita Shinchi brothel quarter — and have photos to prove it

Shukan Jitsuwa Aug. 24-31

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, a record 24.04 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2016. Of that figure, nearly 40 percent (or about 9.4 million) went to Osaka.

As weekly tabloid Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 24-31) tells it, the influx of foreigners, primarily Chinese, Taiwanese and Koreans, is boosting business in Tobita Shinchi, the largest brothel quarter in Kansai, but not everyone is pleased.

“On the internet and in overseas publications, Tobita Shinchi is being billed as a place where you can enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional adult playground in Japan, and the number of foreigners visiting is rapidly increasing,” says a local fuzoku writer, which is to say a scribe covering the commercial sex beat.

Located in Nishinari Ward, the red-light district consists of alleys of brightly lit ryotei structures. Points of interest in the vicinity include Japan’s tallest building, Abeno Harukas, the Tsutenkaku Tower in the Shinsekai entertainment area and the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine.

“Due to a jump in cheap lodging options between near Shinsekai, [Tobita Shinchi] is a ‘night option’ [for tourists] after they visit the Tsutenkaku Tower and Abeno Harukas,” the scribe continues.

“Brightened atmosphere”

The influx has reshaped the outlook of the area. The aforementioned writer says that remodeling of ryotei structures has commenced, and new establishments have even been added. “The atmosphere of the whole quarter has brightened somewhat,” the source says.

The working girls, too, have changed. The number of jukujo (or mature) types are on the decline. Meanwhile, there has been a jump in young and sultry ladies — a response to the taste of the average foreigner. “As a result, the number of Japanese customers has declined,” the writer adds.

Prices, on the other hand, are rising (insert joke about deflation and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here). The standard rate in the quarter is 10,000 yen per 15 minutes. However, punters can now expect to pay between 1,000 and 2,000 yen more per quarter hour.

Consequences

However, this success has come with consequences. “The taking of photographs,” an employee in the quarter says bluntly to the magazine. “When going to a place, there are foreigners who only take photos of the girls. When a complaint is lodged, they run away. These photographs are then uploaded to a social-networking site without much thought. These type of foreigners are infuriating since they pretend to not know.”

Signs are posted at many shops in Tobita Shinchi that warn against the taking of photographs. However, the recent developments has spurred the local cooperative union to paste of posters around the quarter that proclaim the taking of photographs to be a crime in Japanese and English.

The aforementioned employee questions why the signs were not posted in Korean and Chinese, saying that such an oversight could lead to another development: The flight of women from the quarter.

Source: “Gaikokujin kankokyaku de oseikyo! Tobita Shinchi nayasu shashin satsuei,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 24-31, page 49)

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