"Yanagi-bashi" once was a leading "kagai" geisha district of Tokyo.

There still exist six major "kagai" geisha districts in Tokyo. It was vague to differentiate a geisha district from red-light district in feudal years, however, this distinction had been clarified by law since the end of the Second World War. A geisha, in short, is defined as a female entertainer who plays traditional Japanese musical instruments, or gracefully performs Japanese dances. Yanagi-bashi, which was originally formed at the beginning of the 19th century, used to be one of Tokyo's oldest and largest kagai geisha districts. Being mainly for the owners of nearby long-established stores and cultured person of Tokyo, this kagai was said to be the most sophisticated one in Tokyo. The quality of each geisha here was regarded as No.1. Boasting of the number of the geishas of some 366 in the golden age at the beginning of the 20th century, this district featured scenic beauty expanding alongside the riverbank of the Kanda and the Sumida. The guests enjoyed the twilight river view with elegant performances of geishas, while sitting down to dinner at a riverside "ryotei" high-end Japanese restaurant. However, the embankment work of these rivers after the 1960s completely destroyed the refined elegance of of this neighborhood, as well as the way of the night amusement of the wealthy person had changed. Even this sophisticated kagai couldn't stand the changing times anymore, and the last ryotei closed in 1999 to terminate the glorious history of Yanagi-bashi kagai. As the picture shows, present Yanagi-bashi looks far different from what it used to be. It has become a landing place of "Yakata-bune" meaning houseboat restaurants, sandwiched by many buildings.


Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。


Masahisa Takaki.

全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

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