In the 1920s, Asakusa was to Tokyo what Montmartre had been to 1890s Paris and Times Square was to be to 1940s New York. The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa, by Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, captures the decadent allure of this entertainment district, where beggars and teenage prostitutes mixed with revue dancers and famous authors.
Originally serialized in a Tokyo daily newspaper in 1929 and 1930, this vibrant novel uses unorthodox, kinetic literary techniques to reflect the raw energy of Asakusa, seen through the eyes of a wandering narrator and the cast of mostly female juvenile delinquents who show him their way of life.
Markedly different from Kawabata's later work, The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa shows him in a new light. The annotated edition illuminates Tokyo society, bringing this gem of Japanese modernism at last to a wide audience.