Shinsekai (“New World”), Asakusa, Tokyo, c. 1959.

1950sAmusements & RecreationsArchitectureHistoric District
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“Shinsekai” (“New World”) under construction, Asakusa, Tokyo, ca. 1959. The seven-story entertainment center opened November 3, 1959, in Asakusa’s historic Rokku district – a significant symbol of Japan’s postwar recovery in an area that had been completely obliterated by wartime firebombings, and topped by a replica of Asakusa’s five-storied pagoda (see below), illustrating the “pious and profane” nature of Asakusa – home to ancient Sensoji temple. Back-caption: “A mammoth entertainment center built in Asakusa’s movie district Roku-ward. It was built on the reclaimed land of Asakusa’s Hyotan Pond, a nostalgic place for the sound of music.”

See also:
Asakusa Rokku (Theater Street), c. 1910-1950.
Kokusai Theater, Asakusa, c. 1940.
Five-Storied Pagodas, c. 1910-30.

“Asakusa has been a popular entertainment district since the beginning of the 17th century when the feudal dictators known as Shogun established headquarters in Edo, as Tokyo was then named.

“The emperors continued to hold elaborate court in Kyoto, but the real power was in the hands of the shoguns, who ensured the loyalty of provincial lords by forcing them to maintain houses and families in Edo.

“Craftsmen and merchants moved into the city to provide goods and services for the noble families and their samurai retainers. Among the houses of business was Asakusa’s Yoshiwara, a Japanese version of the Renaissance bordello where courtesans entertained with music, conversation, and other diversions.

“Yoshiwara was closed in 1959, but sensual pleasures are still catered to in dozens of small restaurants, bars, and the Shinsekai, a seven-story amusement center that includes a roller-skating rink and indoor archery.”

The Rotarian, January 1978

“Asakusa amusement center”, c. 1960. The massive completed Shinsekai accommodated recreations from cabarets and restaurants to public baths and a planetarium, and the completed pagoda replica atop the Shinsekai that pays homage to the nearby Asakusa five-storied pagoda.

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