|Naka River from Fukuhaku Deai Bridge|
Someone wrote about Nakasu as "the underbelly of the dregs of Japanese society" where yakuza and the local mafia rule alongside street walkers and geishas. It is this picture that fueled my imagination. I've been to Quartier Pigalle of Paris, Reeperbahn of Hamburg, Soho of London, Kabukicho of Tokyo, Nagarekawa of Hiroshima, Tobita Shinchi of Osaka, and Centro Novo and Republica Square of Sao Paulo. I've always been fascinated with the psychology behind the kitch and sleeze of a big city as much as I am with places of worship. Having that in mind, I wanted to see it. I was a bit wary and debated if I should take my camera with me.
I took the subway to Tenjin eventually strolling along Naka River. The neon lights on the Naka River are famous. They get visited by over 60,000 visitors a day. It has the busiest street in Kyushu. But the crowd that night wasn't big. It doesn't compare to the manual traffic of, say Shibuya or Dotonbori. It provided a leisurely stroll for me.
|Kuroda Nagamasa (Wikimedia)|
Nakasu's streets were full of brightly lit restaurants and bars beside each other. I saw what looked like a tombstone that read "Tenjin Central Park" which was just a row of potted flowers on a bridge to the other side of the river. The yatai (food cards) seemed few. Officially, there are about 150 of them left since the government's crack down on new mobile food stalls.
Nakasu, Fukuoka's red-light district, was an easy walk. It has about 3,500 restaurants, shops, go-go bars, pubs and beer gardens. And there's the sex trade that mostly caters to locals. Many of these sex-oriented establishments refuse entry of foreigners.
Some areas were intimidating so I tried to keep a low profile, walking faster, and kept my camera away. But this was unlike Tokyo's Kabukicho where touts and pimps would follow me around, peddling their trade. Nakasu was a lot more chill.
Clearly, Nakasu wasn't a place you could take your children to. You need to be vigilant. Mostly, it felt safe. But the face of risk never looked scary.
|A trio of geishas as the symbol of Nakasu|
|The scope of Tenjin Central Park is this row of flowers on the foot bridge crossing to the other side of the Naka River.|
|The bright lights of the Naka River is host to 60,000 daily tourists... supposedly.|
|Back to the Tenjin area where the subway entrance is close by.|