Asakusa, Street of Shame (1956) 赤線地帯

Asakusa aerial view 1956 RIVER

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.

Asakusa aerial view 1956 panorama 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).

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5 thoughts on “Asakusa, Street of Shame (1956) 赤線地帯

  1. Sorry to contradict you, but the 1945 picture is not Sensoji. A few points, Nakamise shops were burnt out but still standind, while this pictoure does not show them at all. The street layout is different than in Asakusa. One should be able to see Sumida Gawa but cant. Also Kamiya Bar building at 1-1-1 Asakusa was still standing in 1945 as was Matsuya department store although both burnt out. the buildings in this photo in the approximate location in respect to the temple are different. Finally my former wife’s father was the craftsman who rebuilt Sensoji roof during rebuilding but that did not happen until early 50s.

    • Shoot, you’re right. Thanks for letting me know. Is this Honzan Higashihongan-ji, then? I’m quite embarrassed about the mistake…although it had to happen eventually. Thanks again for the feedback!

    • I’ve updated the post under the assumption that the 1945 photo is Honzan Higashihongan-ji.

      Also, do you have any more stories from your former wife’s father? I made mention of his observation about the roof being built in the 1950s, but would love to know more.

  2. Pingback: Odaiba, then & now: a visual history | the tokyo files 東京ファイル

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