Kastori Bookstore – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Kastori Bookstore

This one-of-a-kind indie publisher-bookshop specializes in archiving historic red-light districts and niche cultural topics of the Shōwa era. 


The Senzoku neighborhood of Taito City, Tokyo, is located in a historic area once known as Yoshiwara, a notorious red-light district that was established by the government in 1617 and remains stealthily active even to this day. Though it’s only a stone’s throw away from the überpopular Asakusa, it is not quite a destination for regular tourists (perhaps except on the nights of the annual Tori-no-Ichi festival).

But if you happen to be interested in the turbulent history of Yoshiwara (and understand a bit of Japanese), the Kastori Bookstore is a perfect shop to browse. This one-of-a-kind indie bookshop was founded in 2016 by Goh Watanabe, who had quit his job to start a publishing company documenting the untold history of yūkaku, feudal Japanese red-light districts, as well as similarly niche cultural topics from the Shōwa era (1926-1989).

So far, Kastori has self-published over a dozen works on such themes and even donated a few of them to the National Diet Library, as their archival values are deemed unparalleled. Working as a researcher, documentarian, publisher, and seller all at once, the bookstore is more of an active archive than a simple shop, and even has a research library despite its small scale. It also holds guide tours of the former Yoshiwara area upon request.

Know Before You Go

The bookstore is open from noon to 7 pm, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; photography is prohibited inside. Major credit cards are accepted.

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December 27, 2023

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