Asakusa, Street of Shame (1956) 赤線地帯

I started watching Street of Shame 赤線地帯 (1956) and couldn’t get past the opening credits without sharing these fascinating panoramas of Asakusa 浅草. As the film opens, we are perched high above the city, facing south, with the Sumidagawa 隅田川 on the left. (My guess is that the camera was placed on top of Tobu Asakusa Station 浅草駅).

We pan right, looking southwest, the interminable Tokyo cityscape punctuated by Mt. Fuji (barely poking its head through the haze) and an unusual tower next to a temple (the tower no longer exists, to my knowledge). Below us, as we look west, we see the uniform roofs of Nakamise-dōri 仲見世通, the iconic shopping street that runs from left to right towards Sensō-ji 浅草寺 temple, which we see to the northwest.

As I’ve described in a previous post, much of Tokyo was destroyed during WWII, including Sensō-ji and most of Asakusa. The temple we see in Street of Shame is only a few years  old. According to a commenter on this post, Sensoji’s roof was not rebuilt until the early 1950s. (See comments section at bottom of the post.)

To get a sense of how barren this part of town was after the war, here’s a picture of the nearby Honzan Higashihongan-ji Temple 東本願寺 (map), taken when Tokyo was still a wasteland, on September 28, 1945. In this photo, Senso-ji is 1 kilometer to the northeast, off-screen from the middle-right of the photo (source).

Other photos of Tokyo showing destruction from WW2:

Of note: “Street of Shame” is about the lives of five women who work at ‘Dreamland’, a brothel in the Yoshiwara red-light district, just north of Asakusa.

See also:


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