The “Four Heavenly Kings of Toyoko” talk about “Toyoko Kids and the Reality of Kabukicho
Sasaki Chihuahua The Realities of Piena Special Edition by an Active Keio University Student Writer Suicides, underage prostitution, lynchings, murders, and other crimes have increased, and police crackdowns have been stepped up Boys and girls seem to have disappeared from the streets, but...
Before I came to Toyoko, I used to get together in Ikebukuro around 2006. But it was not safe there either. We got into trouble when we made trouble in the semi-greasy crowd, so we decided to move to Kabukicho.
In “Toyoko,” which has become completely famous after numerous incidents, there are four young men who are known as the “Four Heavenly Kings” and are revered as charismatic figures by teenage boys and girls.
One of them is Yasuhiro Mizuno, 24, aka “Tadakuni Amamiya,” who was arrested on January 27 this year for indecent conduct with a junior high school girl and re-arrested on March 10 for violation of the Child Welfare Law.
K. was arrested last October under the Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Prohibition Law.
R was reportedly arrested for assaulting a homeless person.
And then there is Mr. X (in his early 20s)…
Mr. X, who began living in Kabukicho around 2006 after graduating from high school and working at a host club, recalls the transition of Toyoko as follows
I think the reason why Toyoko has grown so big is because of Tadakuni. There was another central figure, but when that person disappeared, it was like Tadakuni took over the street. In the beginning, ‘Tadakuni’ and the other four heavenly kings set the rules and just drink all night.
The “Four Heavenly Kings” had the authority to “ban” people who were disturbing the peace of the neighborhood. Disturbing people outside, money-related problems, staying on the street despite being reported missing by their parents, and excessive public display of affection. Especially in the Toyoko neighborhood, where many underage girls gather, men who were looking for women were immediately banned from the area.
Anyone who seemed to be looking for women and flirted with girls in the drinking area was immediately banned. We were there to have a good time, and it was unacceptable to disrupt that. It was also perceived that the ones that heavy drinkers were the stronger person. It was like the person who was the best at getting things going was the one to be looked up to. The “Four Heavenly Kings” were also called because they had a good sense of humor and were good at talking.
Possibility of Toyoko’s Revival
Although Toyoko used to be just a place to have fun and drink, it gained recognition as a hangout via SNS, and as the number of people increased, trouble began to occur more frequently. Suicides, drug overdoses, underage girls being noticed by adults, and prostitution became common.
The arrest of the “Four Heavenly Kings” did not have that much of an impact. Because ‘Tadakuni’ and K are the girls’ idols. Even though it was a violation of the law, it didn’t damage their reputation. The lynching and murder that took place at the end of November last year was more significant. That was trouble caused by guys who looked like semi-gangsters, and had nothing to do with us.”
However, once a murder has occurred, the police cannot ignore it. The crackdown was tightened, and boys and girls could no longer stay in the Toyoko group. Where did the kids who seemed to have disappeared go?
There are still many of them in Kabukicho. Some of them work at cafes and bars, and some of them gather at cheap bars to drink. They don’t go to the street anymore. Nowadays, most of the people on the street are newcomers. For us original members of the group, the people on the street are not part of the Toyoko group.
It is easy to lump together the boys and girls who hang out on the streets of Kabukicho as “Toyoko Kids,” but it seems that unless they are recognized by the “Four Heavenly Kings” and other key members, they are not treated as part of the group.
Will the main members gather on the streets again in the future, and will Toyoko ever be revived?
I don’t think so, at least not until the summer. We might be able to get together if we convene a meeting. It was originally a place where those who wanted to go could gather voluntarily, so I don’t think it would be right to ask them to come. I think it will take time for everyone to naturally gather again.”
The “Toyoko Kids” have completely disappeared from the streets. However, in early March of this year, a bar in Kabukicho that had been a hangout for the kids was busted for serving alcoholic beverages to minors. The bar was popular with kids because of its free-time, all-you-can-drink, inexpensive price of 3,000 yen for both men and women.
Recently, bars in Kabukicho are very expensive. Many of them charge 5,000 yen for all-you-can-drink. Then, more and more people started moving to Shibuya because they felt it was too expensive.
Will they make another comeback in Kabukicho or will they find a new home? In any case, no matter how much the crackdown is tightened, “minors who have no place to stay” will not disappear. Will taking away their places really lead to a reduction in crime?
Born in Tokyo in 2000.
After attending an integrated school in Tokyo from elementary school to high school, he went on to Keio University.
He has been going to Kabukicho since he was 15 years old and has a wide range of personal connections.
At university, he is studying the sociology of downtown areas including Kabukicho.
His book, “Pien to shakai” (“The Disease of ‘Pien’: Consumption and Approval of the SNS Generation”) is now on sale.
Interview and text： Chihuahua Sasaki PHOTO： Sasaki Chihuahua (2nd) Takeo Yuzoku