The Darkside of Roppongi

There are foreigners towns all over the world. In Korea Itewon is an example of one, and in Japan Roppongi has prospered as the foreigner town. Roppongi is a good place to enjoy clubbing or drinking, but there are many swindles and crimes. Let’s know and explore the dark side of Roppongi!

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After WWII, the United States Army and the Allied Powers occupied an area around Roppongi. Many restaurants, bars, and brothels for foreigners were open in Roppongi. Except for Hardy Barracks, most of the land returned to Japan in 1960. Because of the US army base and several foreign embassies in Roppongi, Roppongi became popular among Japanese people and foreigners as an entertainment district that includes bars, nightclubs, and hostess clubs.

Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

During the time when Roppongi was becoming big as an entertainment town, it was said that there were deep relations with the yakuza or mafia. In the 1950s, Nick Zappetti, an Italian-American, opened Nicola’s, the first pizza restaurant in Japan and committed crimes much like the ones committed by the mafia. Robert Whiting wrote about his adventures in Tokyo Underworld.

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You can enjoy drinking bars and dancing nightclubs in Roppongi. A971, RIGOLETTO, and R2 SUPPER CLUB are famous bars for foreigners in Roppongi and is full of foreigners and Japanese girls at night. FERIA, V2 TOKYO, and MUSE are also famous nightclubs where partygirls and playboys hang out.

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There are some legends about Roppongi nightclubs, like celebrities acting violently or doing sexual things. There are also some rumors related to drugs.

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Nowadays, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown are full of people who are going shopping and are the symbol of Roppongi. Celebrities and rich people tend to live there. People who live or work are called Hills zoku (Hills tribe). Most of them work for IT-related businesses and became rich recently. Hills zoku is often said in a negative way, meaning that they think about only money.

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There are some celebrity cases around Roppongi Hills or Tokyo Midtown. In 2009, an actor Manabu Oshio was arrested for using MDMA and letting a hostess die in Roppongi Hills. In 2009, an idol member of SMAP Tsuyoshi Kusanagi was drunk and walked into a park next to Tokyo Midtown shouting naked. In 2010, kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa was beaten black and blue by Rion Ito in the Barbizon 27 building.

roppongi

Rion Ito is a member of a youth gang group called Kanto Rengo. The members of Kanto Rengo earn money by committing crimes like doing oreore sagi (“it’s me” telephone fraud) or dealing with illegal drugs. They hang out around Roppongi and some nightclubs that are under their control. It is said that Kanto Rengo has relations to the Japanese yakuza.

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The most famous case of Kanto Rengo is that a girls bar owner was beaten to death by about 20 members of Kanto Rengo at Club Flower in the Roi building. Club Flower was closed, but now an other club called SIX TOKYO has opened in the same place.

roppongi

Roppongi is a hangout for not only members of Kanto Rengo, but also Nigerian swindlers. Some drink-spiking cases by Nigerians were reported. Nigerians came to Japan in the late 1990s and worked as bouncers for clubs. They gathered relatives from Nigeria and own bars or adult entertainment shops. They tout aggressively and do crimes in bars like swindling, drink-spiking, and robbing. They target mostly foreigners in Roppongi, because most Japanese people are scared and warned of them. The U.S. Embassy in Japan issued an alert to Americans in 2009 because there are so many American victims.

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Anyway, you can know the darkside of Roppongi. It’s great to enjoy Roppongi where foreigners and cute Japanese girls gather, but take care of the many traps or you will be in danger.

ore ore sagi : “It’s me” telephone fraud. Young gangs call elderly people and pretend to be their sons or grandsons. They say “ore ore” (It’s me) and “I’m in trouble”, and ask for a large amount of money.

[How to go]  within a 10 minute walk from Roppongi Station (六本木駅) on the Hibuya Line (日比谷線) or Oedo Line (大江戸線)

Roppongi

Roppongi

posted with amazlet at 16.01.20
Nick Vasey
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