The area in the photos below is Tokyo’s Yoshiwara red light district. Well, officially the name isn’t in use anymore, but the same 17th century street layout still exists, as does the adult nature of the services on offer.
Relocated to the current site in 1657, the area has endured earthquakes and fires, plus countless thousands of young women who worked there over the centuries suffered indenture, disease and very often an early death. Many in fact died before they reached their 30s, and the ashes and spirits of a staggering 25,000 former residents are housed in a nearby temple — the vast majority of whom were deemed nothing more than unwanted bodies and unceremoniously dumped outside the gates.
Nowadays, of course, things are different, but while the name and a shocking disregard for human life are in the past, the main line of business is essentially still the same. To sidestep the law, however, it’s nearly all soapland these days. Rather comically named soapland at that. All of which made the sight of an elderly lady walking by with her freshly bought vegetables more than a little incongruous to say the least.