Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shian-bashi, Nagasaki (Part 1)

The retro metal gateway into the narrow street that identifies the Shian-bashi area, rife with the energy of eateries, bars, and night time crowds... a bit of a local monument.

This area was known as Maruyama, a well-known brothel district until the anti-prostitution laws of the 1950s came into effect, ending three centuries of a flourishing industry.

Shian-bashi (思案橋, literally, "Ponder Bridge") is now a busy neighbourhood adjacent the main commercial retail area of Hamanomachi, and is still a popular and iconic night-time destination.

Interestingly, there was indeed a little bridge over a stream here, and it is said that it got its name from the way patrons "pondered" (思案する) in indecision whether to spend (more) money at the brothels.

Easily overlooked in the cacophony are some details revealing aspects of this history...

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