Yoshiwara Shrine (吉原神社) is near Taito Hospital at the end of Nakacho Street. This shrine is for the girls from Yoshiwara Yukaku (a licensened red light district).
There were five shrines for people who worked in Yoshiwara Yukaku. Yoshiwara Shrine was built by combining five shrines in 1872. It burned in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and again in WWII in 1945. It was rebuilt in 1968.
Oiran (花魁, courtesans, high-grade prostitutes) and other girls prayed at shrines when this area was Yoshiwara Yukaku. It has been said that the god in shrines could make women’s wishes.
“Pictures of Yoshiwara Now and Old Days”, drawnings of Yoshiwara Yukaku, showing in detail every generation are posted next to the prayer hall. Maps of Yoshiwara Yukaku are also sold. When you see these, you can know the divisions of Yoshiwara have not changed at all since the old days.
In front of Yoshiwara Shrine, there is a small shrine called Yoshiwara Benzaiten (吉原弁財天). There is a statue of Kannon (観音, the Goddess of Mercy) on a big rock, with a plaque reading “Monument for victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake.”
It is said that more than 500 prostitutes in Yoshiwara died in the Great Kanto Earthquake. There was only one gate in Yoshiwara Yukaku and some of the women tried to escape the fire into the pond, and drowned to death.
There used to be a pond called Benten Pond, but has been filled in. Then the statue of the Kannon was built in 1926 on the site of Benten Pond, in memory of the prostitutes who died in the Great Kanto Earthquake. Even now, many people come to pray here and make votive offerings.
[How to go] a 15 minute walk from Minowa Station (三ノ輪駅) on the subway Hibiya Line or Minami-Senju Station (南千住駅) on the JR Joban Line and Tsukuba Express
Yoshiwara Shrine (吉原神社) : 3 Chome-20-2 Senzoku, Taito, Tokyo (台東区千束3-20-2)
Yoshiwara Benzaiten (吉原弁財天) : 3 Chome-22-3 Senzoku, Taito, Tokyo (台東区千束3-22-3)
yūkaku (遊郭, 遊廓) : licensed red light district, famous yukaku are Yoshiwara Yukaku in Tokyo and Tobita Shinchi in Osaka
yūjo (遊女), joro (女郎), shougi (娼妓) : licensed prostitutes in yukaku
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