On May 24, 1956, the Diet voted Japan’s anti-prostitution statute into law, effective from April 1, 1957; but enforcement was postponed a year to give sex workers time to seek new livelihoods.

“On its last night of business, after the 106 houses — with fewer patrons than usual — saw off their customers at around 11 p.m., the lights finally began flickering out … and the streets of the Yoshiwara, which in the past had been bright enough not to even need lamps, descended into a deep darkness. It had changed so much that, in that one instant, I said to myself, ‘Where in the world is this place?’ “

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