Kabukicho Shinjuku – A Guide To Visit Tokyo’s Red Light District!

Shinjuku Tokyo - Kabukicho

If you’re visiting Tokyo and looking to try out something a little more risqué, you can always head on over to the Tokyo Red Light District to see a different side of the land under the rising sun. Most people think of red light districts as something to be ashamed and embarrassed by, but it’s perfectly normal to want to explore such an interesting area of Japan. 

Although Japan is best known for anime, manga, robots, kawaii fashion culture (Harajuku), samurai, and ninjas, there’s also a thriving underground scene that explores city nightlife and the sex industry in Japan.

The country’s history is actually quite rich with sexual art and themes, stemming all the way back to the 8th century which featured ‘shunga’ or erotic art. Instead of being a dark, taboo subject, sex is actually celebrated and normalized (though still a reserved and quiet affair); hence why you can find sex shops anywhere in Tokyo.

Shinto, which is one of the main religions of Japan, doesn’t consider premarital sex taboo, but Buddhism does. Prostitution has had a long history in Japan, from the oiran and geisha to hentai and nude figurines. Regardless of what exactly you’re looking to find in Tokyo red light district, you’ll be sure to find an interesting, unique side of Japan you likely never thought existed!

Before to jump into this blog post, let’s have a virtual visit of Kabukicho with this video:

And if you want to take amazing pictures during your visit of Kabukicho, join this photo trip! Deniz, a talented photographer based in Tokyo, will show you his best photo spots and will capture stunning shots of you!

Kabukicho Photo Trip Tokyo

How To Get To Kabukicho in Shinjuku?

To go to Kabukicho, you can take the train or metro and stop at the very busy Shinjuku station. You would then have to walk around 8 minutes to reach Kabukicho area. Many lines can take you to Shinjuku station, including the JR Yamanote Line and the metro lines Oedo and Marunouchi, to name just a few. If you want to stop even closer, you can take the Oedo Line or the Fukutoshin Line and drop at Higahi-Shinjuku station.

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District – The Kyabakura (Host Clubs)

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District - The Kyabakura (Host Clubs)

The term ‘kyabakura’ is actually just a shortened word for cabaret club. The difference between kyabakura and host clubs is that kyabakura caters to male customers and host clubs cater to female customers. Inside both clubs you’ll find attractive women or men who are just as nice to look at as they are to chat with.

Whether they were born with the inert ability to make others feel safe and loved or they’ve been perfecting their craft for years, even just an hour inside these establishments will make you eager to stay longer or visit again!

Although it may seem like a dream come true – picking an attractive host from a large ‘menu’ and enjoying copious amounts of drinks with them as you laugh and enjoy your night together – it’s important to remember that your host is, in fact, a salesperson first and foremost.

The more drinks they get you to buy, the higher their commissions are, and the more they make during their shift. To entice guests to spend as much as possible, they’ll make sure you drink as much as possible (using any tactics necessary).

Regardless of the reason why hosts are engaging with clients, it’s still fun and entertaining to have such a beautiful human being cater to your whims and treat you like the center of the world. Although physical contact is banned in these establishments, you’ll still feel the warmth and love from your host’s sweet words and flirtatious looks. If you know what you’re getting into and want to enjoy having someone with god-like looks fawn over you for an hour or two, then the host club might be the perfect place fo you!

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District – The Love Hotels

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District - Love Hotel The Hotel

Can you believe that many people travel to Japan each year with the sole purpose of staying in a love hotel? It’s true! Even platonic friends chip in just to experience a night in these lavish and luxurious hotels that were created to give couples a relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy the company of their loved one. Many newlyweds travel to Japan specifically to have their honeymoon in one of Tokyo’s amazing love hotels!

Love hotels in Japan get a bad rap; there’s no denying that. Many assume that they’re only used by cheating spouses who want to keep their affairs secret and away from their homes.

Interestingly enough, these hotels are more commonly used by couples in a relationship who might not have the space or ability to be alone together in their current housing situation. Young couple still living with their parents use the hotels so that they can enjoy together time without prying eyes.

No matter what your reason for staying at a love hotel in Japan, you’re sure to absolutely enjoy your experience! Not only are these hotels set at comparable prices when compared to regular or business hotels, but they’re usually jam packed with awesome features that can’t be found elsewhere. You can have a private sauna, karaoke set up, blu-ray player, flatscreen TV, soundproof walls, game consoles, price laptops, and numerous pieces of furniture all in the same room!

One more point of interest to add: there are also some love hotels that feature themed rooms that you can rent for 3-6 hour increments. If you’ve ever wanted to stay in an underwater-themed room, princess room, torture chamber room, cowboy room, or any other room you can think of, chances are you can find it in Tokyo!

If you want to try the Love Hotel Experience, check out our selection of the best love hotels in Tokyo.

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District – Robot Restaurant

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District - Robot Restaurant

Though you might be a bit apprehensive to check out this crazy, eccentric restaurant – like I was – after visiting the restaurant myself and seeing everything it had to offer, I can say with absolute certainty that it’s definitely worth the trip! Not only will you see some of the things that make Japan so unique and special in the eyes of those visiting this historic land, but you’ll also experience something new and exciting that you likely won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world!

The Robot Restaurant is a themed restaurant that is hugely popular amongst both locals and travelers. It’s highly suggested to book early and online, as tickets for shows can be sold out for weeks (sometimes even months!) beforehand. Special prices can be found online for savvy shoppers, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you visit if your tickets are already purchased and stored on your phone and your seats are saved.

I don’t want to give too much away here since we have so much more to cover in Tokyo’s red light district, but I will say this: with all the special effects, lights, dancing, music, drama, good, souvenirs, and futuristic technological spectacles, even if you can’t understand the language you’re sure to have a good time! 

If you want to read all about my experiences at the Robot Restaurant and a detailed walkthrough of the event, you can find that information here: Robot Restaurant Tokyo.

Don’t Miss Out Golden Gai

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District - Golden Gai

If you’re a fan of history, local finds, a night on the town, and delicious Japanese food and drinks, Golden Gai will serve you well! The buildings featured in the Golden Gai are old and not as pretty as those found in other areas of Tokyo, but they have history and are actually a sentiment to how resilient both people and structures can be. Most other buildings in the area toppled due to earthquakes, war, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. The six alleys that make up Golden Gai, however, have withstood the test of time and continue to stand proud.

Take a trip to the past and immerse yourself in small, crowded bars that will put you right next to locals and give you a chance to really immerse yourself in Japanese drinking culture. There’s at least one bar for everyone here, as each bar caters to different clientele and has different drinks, snacks, and food. Be warned; there are some bars that only cater to regulars and generally don’t like serving foreigners due to the language barrier. These bars aren’t trying to be rude, they just want to provide a more relaxed atmosphere for those that visit the establishment daily.

One important fact to note is that although Golden Gai may look like a place where only bums and  degenerates visit due to the outward appearance of the area, it’s actually a hotspot for celebrities and actors that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Though it’s less likely that a traveler might recognize the well-known personalities, it’s not hard to understand what’s going on when everyone in the bar is whispering and pointing at a smartly dressed patron. Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready – you just might be able to snag a photo of one of the country’s VIPs!

Spot The Godzilla!

Kabukicho Tokyo Red Light District - Spot The Godzilla!

If you’re a fan of classic Japanese cinema, or just love the larger than life monsters Japan creatures, than you’ll likely want to stop by Hotel Gracery to spot one of the most iconic characters in the land of the rising sun! The life-sized bust of Godzilla overlooks the Kabukicho entertainment district from the eighth floor of Hotel Gracery with a wide-open mouth, readying himself to attack! Many travelers actually miss this one-of-a-kind sight while visiting Kabukicho, so keep your eyes peeled and stay alert for giant lizards terrorizing the area! 

To get the best view of this enormous landmark, it’s suggested that you either book a room at the hotel or enjoy a meal at Bonjour, a sandwich buffet with a floor-to-ceiling panoramic view of Godzilla’s head. Not only is the replica impressive to behold, but it also lights up, roars, and produces steam to mimic his iconic atomic breath or fireballs. This is a sight that’s especially fun to look at if you have young viewers or die-hard old monster movie fans in your party! 

Although the name implies that Kabukicho is a seedy underbelly of Tokyo where sex reigns supreme, it’s actually quite an interesting place to visit if you want to experience a lesser known side of Japan.

Host clubs and Kyabakura are great places to visit just to have the experience of being doted on by an extremely attractive man or woman; love hotels are great even if you don’t have a significant other; themed restaurants are a great way to enjoy a show without worrying about your Japanese level; and fun little surprises like a giant Godzilla head keep you on your toes. There are plenty of other fun things to do as a tourist in the area that are sure to delight and entertain! 

Overall, Tokyo red light district is not just a place for getting down and dirty, but an area with unexpected treasures and experiences that will heighten any trip to Japan. If you’ve already experience the mainstream, normal activities most people enjoy doing in Japan, maybe it’s time you branch out a little and have fun on the wild side! Let your inhibitions guide you all the way to Kabukicho, and find out what fits your fancy at Tokyo red light district!

And for more info about traveling in Japan, feel free to read these blog posts too: Japan Travel Blog.

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