When thinking about the Japanese nightlife, the Kabukicho District is a pretty good summary of what you’d be thinking about. The bustling streets, bright neon lights, intriguing bars, narrow alleys and an atmosphere unmatched by anywhere else in the world. But, Kabukicho is known for being the sketchy red light district of Tokyo, putting many tourists out of the idea of visiting.
Is Kabukicho safe? Yes, Kabukicho is safe, even for tourists. However, knowing the correct precautions to take when visiting for the first time is definitely recommended. Sketchy bars that overcharge, being overly intoxicated, visiting too late in the evening or not researching the area before you go; are all things you want to MASSIVELY avoid.
So, yes, Kabukicho is safe to visit. But, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangers of going there. Like many places in the world, there are always some parts you want to avoid, along with certain precautions you should take. If you want to visit Kabukicho, read on to find out how you can stay safe while having an amazing time at the famous entertainment district.
How Safe Is Kabukicho?
Kabukicho is famously known as being the ‘sketchy’ part of the city. And, this is true, to an extent.
Although it’s true that it’s the most ‘dangerous’ part of Tokyo, this doesn’t mean that Kabukicho is an area full of crime that takes place on a daily.
Tokyo is in fact, the safest city in the world, claimed by many travel blogs and companies.
This means that the most dangerous area in Tokyo is actually a lot safer than most places around the world.
A youtube video I came across perfectly explained this. Nobita From Japan even went as far as to interview multiple tourists to get their opinion on how safe they felt when visiting the area.
I’ve attached the video below for you to check out, it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re having doubts about visiting Kabukicho!
So, although Kabukicho can be a fairly dangerous area, that doesn’t mean you will run into trouble on your visit. Kabikucho may very well be much safer than where you live!
Of course, it is still very important to take caution, as with any new area that you visit. Kabukicho has many host/hostess clubs, rip-off restaurants and bars, prostitution and even Yakuza(Japanese Mafia).
In fact, if you’ve ever played the famous critically acclaimed Yakuza game series, then Kabukicho will look very similar to the Kamurocho district in the game. The developers had actually recreated a fictional version of Kabukicho as the setting for the series, and to say it fits well would be an understatement!
Although the district is very expertly recreated, there are still some differences. You do not need to worry about thugs and Yakuza members waiting around every corner on your visit to Kabukicho, thank god!
How To Stay Safe When Visiting Kabukicho
As spoken about already, there are some safety precautions that you definitely want to take when visiting Tokyo’s red-light district. Ensuring that you are safe should always be the very first priority for any tourist or visitor. I’ve done some thorough research about the dangers of Kabukicho and how you can avoid them. The list below is the perfect guide to staying safe when visiting the area. It is extremely important to follow this list of tips very closely if you are going to Kabukicho!
Don’t Visit Too Late In The Evening
As with anywhere else that you are visiting for the first time, avoiding going late at night should be your first obvious safety measure. Although Kabikucho is known as the night district, I would highly avoid going after midnight hours, especially if it’s your first time going.
I know that the whole point of visiting Kabukicho is to witness the vivid neon lights light up the roads and pavements. You can still check out the district at night, just either make sure you visit earlier, or that you go with a large group of people.
So, if you are visiting the area solo then you should visit around 6 pm-11 pm, depending on the time of year and how early it gets dark.
If there is a larger group of you going, I would recommend 4 at least, then you would most likely be fine leaving at whatever time you please. I am not by any means saying that just because you have a larger group, you won’t face any trouble.
It can still be risky staying in the area during the early hours of the morning, as this is when most crimes occur.
Avoid Restaurants & Bars With Active Promoters Outside
This precaution may seem strange. If you have visited any country in Europe, or in the world for that matter; then you will know that bar & restaurant promoters are extremely common.
If you are not aware of what these are, to put it simply, they are just employees that pull people up on the street to persuade them to have a drink or a meal at their establishment.
What’s the harm in that?
Well, in most places, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it! However, in Kabukicho it is very well known for these touts to draw people into sketchy and untrustworthy establishments.
You could be told one price by the tout, and then as you ask for the bill, you suddenly receive many hidden charges that you had absolutely no idea about.
Just to be clear, this is NOT the type of neighbourhood that you want to start arguments or disagree with people.
Avoid this whole situation completely, by politely turning down the promoters and just sticking to the bars that appear popular and trustworthy.
Popular restaurants & bars in the area such as the Robot Restaurant, sometimes have promoters outside, but due to the popularity, you can rest assured that these are legit businesses.
Click Here To Check Out The Best & Safest Bars & Clubs In Kabukicho
Don’t Become Overly Intoxicated
This one should be pretty obvious.
Visiting any area and proceeding to become intoxicated can be dangerous for many reasons. Especially when it is somewhere you’ve never been before…
I understand that spending time in an area full of bars, clubs and restaurants can make it quite tempting to drink. And, for the record, I am not saying to not drink at all, that would be crazy! Just make sure you stay aware of how much you are drinking, for the sake of your safety, and your wallet.
Kabukicho can be quite expensive so it’s definitely important that you keep track of what you are ordering. This is even more important if you are in a not-so-popular bar or restaurant, as the dreaded hidden charges may pop up at any time!
Take Precaution If You Are A Solo Travelling Male
The main targets for the dodgy people of Kabukicho are males travelling on their own around the district. This is probably due to the fact that the district is well-known for prostitution and hostess clubs.
It would be assumed that a male travelling on their own in this area would be looking for one thing, and one thing only. This, therefore, leads the sketchy establishments to assume that these men are carrying a decent amount of money.
As you can tell, the establishments definitely feed off this and use it to their advantage.
Have Extra Care When Going To Golden Gai
Golden Gai is a must-do for many people when visiting Kabukicho. The thin, narrow alleyways of this area are home to around 300 small bars and places to eat.
It has an atmosphere around it that is extremely unique to this place, and this place only. Honestly, there is nowhere else like it in the world!
Perhaps the part that intrigues people the most is the mystery and sketchiness that surrounds the area.
After all, there are many people visiting there for all kinds of intentions. It is a very secretive area in some respects. Photography of the bars can be pretty strict and the members of the area do not like being on camera.
There are all kinds of shady things that could be taking place, after all, it is within the red-light district of Tokyo.
If you wish to visit Golden Gai, take extra care.
Many tourists visit there every year and it is generally safe for the most part.
In my opinion, I think it is a great little area and the shady persona about it has been exaggerated by visitors over the years. An example of this, some bars do not allow tourists to enter. Many people have said that this is because the bars are secretive and have sketchy people meeting there.
This isn’t true!
They do not let tourists in for the fact that they either do not speak English, or they need to keep the seats free for their regulars. The bars in Golden Gai are tiny and only sit around 8 people in each, so this explains why a small number of them don’t allow newcomers.
So as mentioned before, I think you should definitely check out Golden Gai, but just take a little more care and make sure you are alert at all times!
Should You Visit Kabukicho?
This district is exactly what makes Japanese nightlife what it is!
The buildings surrounded by neon lights, the never sleeping pavements full of people, the unique bars and restaurants that you couldn’t find anywhere else; are all reasons you shouldn’t hold back on visiting.
Whether you are a fan of gaming, Japanese lifestyle or anime, Kabikucho holds pretty good inspiration for all of these. Kabukicho is a must-visit for anyone visiting Tokyo.