Kabuki-cho (red light district)

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Kabuki, which occupies a mere 600 metres square of prime Tokyo real estate, was given its current name in 1948 amid plans to open a kabuki theatre which, in the end, was never built. The sex shops appeared in the 1970s thanks to Kabukicho’s proximity to Shinjuku, home to the world’s busiest train station. About 150,000 people pass through Kabukicho every day, generating an estimated 300bn yen a year for the local economy. The area is home to 4,000 businesses, including 300 sex shops, 160 host clubs, 80 hotels and hundreds of bars and restaurants. About 1,800 gangsters operate in the area, making money from prostitution and protection rackets. Many Kabukicho locals say they support the Olympic bid, but are quick to point out that their neighbourhood has already built an admirable ethos of its own.

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