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In , just 19 years after Japan opened it first ports to the world, and a mere ten years after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, an adventurous year old woman from the UK set out to explore the interior of Japan. The country was virtually unknown to Westerners, and a woman traveling only with a guide seemed outrageous. Everybody advised her not to, but she went anyway and wrote this unique and vivid journal of what she saw and experienced. MeijiShowa License all the photos on this site at our boutique photo agency for vintage photographs, illustrations and maps of Japan between the s and s Meiji, Taisho, early Showa.
Clearly, the voters were all men. In Meiji 1 , the very year that Kobe became an open port, the Japanese population of the villages of Hyogo and Kobe requested the establishment of licensed prostitute quarters in the area. Soon after, a large red light district was built on the spot where now Kobe Station is located.
It was called Fukuhara, after the short-lived imperial capital that was located around here in Things got off to a bad start. By Meiji 3 , construction started for the railroad connection between Kobe and Osaka, and Kobe Station was planned at the exact location of the Fukuhara Yukaku red light district.
Fukuhara was therefore moved to an empty wasteland along the river Minatogawa. Fukuhara was more than just a collection of brothels. It must have helped Fukuhara when in the new entertainment street of Shinkaichi was opened in the former riverbed of the Minatogawa.
Its course had been changed in , and many theaters and restaurants were built were once the river flowed. Although licensed prostitution was outlawed in , Fukuhara, like so many other traditional red light districts in Japan , managed to survive.