A City represent its people

In 1698 a new Shukuba (or "post station" for travellers to stop by), Shinjuku, was established on Koshu Kaido between Nihonbashi and Takaido (15 km apart). During the Tokugawa era, the area which has almost reached 700,000 m2, belonged to the Naito family (Lords of the Takato domain, present-day Takato city), and as a result new station was named "Naitoh Shinjuku". After a lot of back-and-forth (the constant creation and abolition of the red-light district), eventually the station ourished as a transportation and logistics hub. After World War II, the Japanese government began reconstruction of major cities that had been destroyed in air raids. There were also examples of private-sector-driven reconstruction, one of them being Kabukicho. Lead by Kihei Suzuki of the Association of Readjustment and Reconstruction of Shinjuku, the idea was to turn Kabukicho into an amusement centre.
Kihei Suzuki
Prior to this, the area of Kabukicho had been called the "1st district of North Tsunohazu". When Kihei Suzuki returned from wartime evacuation, he came up with the idea of constructing both a performing arts space, and a moral amusement centre, and with the help of Mohei Minejima, the area’s greatest landowner, his plan suddenly became a reality. Whilst searching for a name for the new cultural district, they had been attempting to attract a Kabuki theatre to the area, so a Tokyo based regional planner, Hideaki Ishikawa came up with the name "Kabukicho". As a result, on April 1st 1948 Kabukicho was born. Kihei Suzuki bought in Kikuza (a Kabuki theatre), movie theatres, entertainment halls, and dance halls to Kabukicho. However, when it came to construction time, the government suddenly started to regulate special building constructions, and put restrictions on bank accounts, halting all progress. Kabukicho ran in the Tokyo Cultural and Industrial Exhibition in 1950. A pavilion for the exhibition was constructed, and became the base of today’s theatre district.

In 1956, the Tokyu Bunka Kaikan (Tokyu Cultural Centre), the Milano Movie Theatre (biggest theatre in Japan), and the Tokyo Ice Skating Rink were all completed side-by-side. The Shinjuku Koma Theatre, later called the "Holy Sanctuary of Enka", opened in the same year, and thus the prototype of a "moral amusement centre", previously a mere dream, had been completed.
The original arch built on the 1st avenue of Gekijo street in 1956.The sign says "Shinjuku Entertainment Centre Kabukicho"
Around the Kabukicho area, red-light districts still existed, and were one of the biggest attractions of the area, contrasting with the healthier, cultural centre side of Kabukicho, having movie theatres and ice skating rinks. In 1985, the New Entertainment Business Act came into force and bought vast change to the area’s destiny. Video game arcades, discos, and such, all suddenly closed down, making way for new adult-entertainment businesses.
In 1984, the hostess bar "Shinjuku Cats" opened.
In the middle of 1980s "Shinjuku Cats", which employed college girls, created a hostess bar boom, and from 1989, call-girls, hostess bars and host clubs became drastically popular. Hideaki Ishikawa, one of the founders of Kabukicho, wanted the area to be an European style democratic city with an public square at the centre where citizens could talk and relax.

He firmly believed that citizens should clean the area themselves, and that the citizens attitudes determines the city’s atmosphere. "A city represents people" he said, contrasting the life of the city with the life of the people.

(Written by Koichi Teratani)

Central Road in 2006 Central Road in 2015


19454,5The whole area was destroyed by aerial-bombings
10Rehabilitation Organisation established
194712Completion of rehabilitation
19484On the 1st April, Kabukicho was born
7Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law was created
19494The last Tokyo Metropolitan train stop moved to Kabukicho
4Kabukicho Rehabilitation Organisation established
19506Exhibition of Industrial Culture held
19511Ward office moved from Ushigome to Kabukicho
19523Seibu Shinjuku Station constructed
195612On the 1st, Shinjuku Tokyu Culture Centre was completed
On the 28th, Shinjuku Koma Theatre was established
Kabukicho Promotional Co-operative Society created
19636Kabukicho Shopping District Association born
11Tokyo Metropolitan’s Suginami Line was destroyed
19641Coming-of-age ceremony held for the first time in Kabukicho
2Kabukicho’s first Benzaiten Setsubun was held
5Shinjuku National Railway Minshu Station was opened
10Tokyo Olympics were held
19651010AM-10PM, "floating population" of Kabukicho reached 154,000
19671Group burial in Kabukicho for Suzuki Kihei was held
19687Postcode system devised
10Kabukicho Crime Prevention Ceremony was held
Extremist students rioted on International Anti-war Day
1969The arch was completed on the Gekijo Road’s first street
10Shinjuku Police Station established (formerly Yodobashi Police Station)
19703Tokyo Metropolitan withdrew from Kabukicho
19721110am-10pm, "floating population" of Kabukicho reached 260,000
19739Underground parking and shopping complex "Subnade" were developed
At the entrance of Chuo Street scramble crossroads were constructed
19754Shinjuku Fire Station established (formerly Yodobashi Fire Station)
19773Seibu Shinjuku Station skyscraper constructed
19787Kabukicho became Kabukicho 1-chome
19793Central Road (previously Chuo Street) completed
198010Big Shinjuku ward's first large festival was held
11American Boulevard was opened
19818The first Kabukicho Furusato Festival was held
1110am-12am "floating population" of Kabukicho reached 270,000
19852New Entertainment Business Act put into effect
19877Shinjuku Tax Office created (formerly Yodobashi Tax Office)
8Okubo Hospital stopped operation (Health Plaza Hygeia)
19934Metropolitan Health Plaza Hygeia implemented
6Marriage of the Crown Prince
19985Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law revised
19991Birth of the Europe’s Euro currency
20014Koizumi joined the cabinet
944 people tragically lost their lives in a building fire
20077Shinjuku’s first Eisa Festival was held
2004An influx of Korean culture swept over Japan
20051Kabukicho Renaissance Committee formed
20065Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law re-revised
11Kuyakusho Street Illumination project started
200812Shinjuku Koma Theatre and Shinjuku Toho Hall closed down
20113Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami
4Safety and Relief temporary police station established in Kabukicho
20139Shinjuku Ward Anti-touting Law put into place
12Addition of LEDs to Gekijo Street's Arch
20142Kabukicho Concierge Association formed
12Shinjuku Tokyo Milano Building "Milano Za" closed down
20153New "Central Road" built
4Shinjuku Toho Building and Hotel Gracery were opened
20163Sine City Square Construction scheduled to finish
2018 Kabukicho Shopping District Promotion Association Bldg to be completed