JAPAN: Green Light for Red Lights

In the palmy days before World War I, no red-light district in the world could boast the gilded wantonness of Tokyo's Yoshiwara. There, along a garden lane redolent with flower blossoms, the powdered and pomaded prostitutes of three centuries had minced along as dainty as figures on a sandalwood fan. The nightly pleasures they offered included even mock marriage ceremonies.

The ravages of time have long since swept away Yoshiwara's refinements, without sweeping away prostitution itself. In fact, since prewar days, Japan's red-light districts have increased by almost one-third. An estimated 500,000...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!