Photo/Illutration A tour group visits Yoshiwarajinja shrine in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, which enshrines five Inarisha shrines that served as guardian deities of the old Yoshiwara red-light district, on Feb. 12. (Yuka Honda)

Shiroshi Nakae, the owner of a century-old restaurant in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about the charms of the local Yoshiwara area, which hosted a famed pleasure quarter in feudal times.

Tourists have descended on the area, where a red-light district licensed by the Tokugawa Shogunate thrived during the Edo Period (1603-1867), to find traces of its colorful past after it featured as a locale in the “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” anime series.

Nakae, 58, decided to offer guided tours so visitors get a correct sense of the history and culture of the neighborhood now overtaken by seedy massage parlors.

On the afternoon of Feb. 12, he led a group of 11 people to the Senzoku 4-chome district, where “Daimon” (Big gate), the gateway to the old Yoshiwara red-light district, once stood.

Nakae, the fourth-generation proprietor of Sakura Nabe Nakae, a hot pot dish restaurant founded in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), gave a running commentary.

“The Yoshiwara red-light district was surrounded by a moat on the outside, and there were fences on the inside,” he told the participants. “There was a gate here, and no one could go in or out when it was closed.”

The S-shaped curve leading to the old Yoshiwara red-light district from the main road in Tokyo’s Taito Ward (Yuka Honda)

Hardly any buildings reminiscent of the pleasure quarter remain, but Nakae explained about remnants of bygone days found here and there.

Nakae pulled to a stop shortly after the group walked past an S-shaped road leading to the Yoshiwara area from the main Dote-dori street.

“Because the Dote-dori was used for the ‘daimyo gyoretsu’ (warlord procession) parade, the streets of Yoshiwara were hidden from plain view of people of high position,” he said. “That function still remains today.”

During the one-hour tour, Nakae led the group to other spots across the area, including a monument for “Mikaeri Yanagi” (looking back willow tree) set up at the side of the Yoshiwara-Daimon intersection and Yoshiwarajinja shrine, which collectively enshrines five Inarisha shrines that served as guardian deities of the licensed district.

After the tour, the group visited Nakae’s restaurant to feast on horse meat hot pot dishes that originated in Yoshiwara. The building is designated as a tangible cultural property by the government as it survived the Great Tokyo Air Raid of 1945.

“The area retains the ambience of when there was a red-light district,” said Tomoko Yoshimura, 40, a freelance writer living in the capital’s Shinagawa Ward who joined the tour with her husband. “I gained a better understanding, thanks to his commentary.”

The Yoshiwara pleasure quarter was originally located in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district before it was moved to what is now the Senzoku district after a great fire in the Meireki era of the Edo Period in 1657.

In Yoshiwara’s heyday, it is said that several thousand “yujo” prostitutes worked there.

The red-light district, shut down after the Anti-Prostitution Law fully took effect in 1958, is now a hub for “soapland” brothels.

As a sightseeing resource, Yoshiwara had attracted little attention until “Demon Slayer” came along.

According to Nakae, tourists have turned up since around last summer after it was announced that the “Entertainment District Arc” of the anime series would be broadcast on TV. Many take rickshaw rides to get around.

A monument for “Mikaeri Yanagi” (looking back willow tree) at the entrance to the old Yoshiwara red-light district in Tokyo’s Taito Ward (Yuka Honda)

Nakae decided to organize guided tours for those who were interested in Yoshiwara but couldn’t be bothered to visit without knowing what to look out for.

“Red-light districts don’t exist only in manga and fantasy worlds,” Nakae said. “I want participants to correctly learn the history of Yoshiwara through my tour.”

He hosted the event five times in February, with about 50 people joining the tour.

Participants mainly ranged in age from their 30s to 40s, but there was at least one family who said they became interested in the district due to “Demon Slayer.”

The tour is being offered for a total of eight times from March to April for a fee of 3,980 yen ($34.30), including tax. Each participant will be treated with a horse meat hot pot dish.

To make reservations or inquiries, contact Nakae at (