Minowa Station lies on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line in the Minowa district of Arakawa ward of Tokyo.


Minowa is a low income area of Arakawa in north Tokyo. It is mainly known for “Yoshiwara”, located not far from Minowa Station.


Yoshiwara was a large walled area during the Tokugawa days that housed prostitutes. As it was authorized by the shogunate, Yoshiwara was openly frequented by both the royalty and the common man. Most of the women here came from poor families who were sold by their parents themselves when still very young. The living conditions of Yoshiwara were pathetic, with most women dying early due to various diseases. After their death, since there would be no one to claim their bodies, they were wrapped in mats and dumped at a temple nearby. During the great earthquake and the following fire of 1854, more than 25,000 prostitutes of Yoshiwara died as there was no means of escape from the burning and collapsing shoddy buildings of the overcrowded place.


Yoshiwara (the area is not officially known by that name anymore and neither is it walled) is still a pleasure quarter. The narrow winding streets are lined on both sides by brothels. The buildings of these places have garish exteriors and have men standing at the entrances calling and inviting those passing by.


Jokanji Temple


Jokanji Temple is located just north of Yoshiwara a short walk from Minowa Station. This temple is also known as Throw-Away Temple , because it was here that the bodies of the dead prostitutes of Yoshiwara were thrown. The temple authorities would then carry them inside and bury them. Jokanji Temple, which dates back to 1665, houses the bodies of thousands of prostitutes (including the 25,000 that died in the 1854 disaster) in a cemetery behind the temple.


At the cemetery, there is a memorial built in honor of all the dead of Yoshiwara. At the top of the memorial is a statue of a seated Buddha with a staff in his hand. It is said to be praying for the peace of the souls of the buried women. Behind the statue is a pillar with the words “Shin Yoshiwara Memorial” inscribed on it. In the front, there is a small shrine at the base with an offering plate, an incense burner, cups of sake and flowers.


There is another memorial at Jokanji Temple. This monument was erected for Kafu Nagai (1879-1959), a famous novelist who lived in the area and whose stories were about the women of Yoshiwara.


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