Tokyo Punk Artspace – the Ghetto in Shinjuku

I’d heard about The Ghetto, north of Shinuku, before my last trip to Japan, but my time was so short I didn’t make it there. Unfortunately, it closed in November, so now I’ll never get to go 🙁

Well, it was a cool place in its day…and who knows? Maybe a similar space will pop up elsewhere.

The Ghetto is a former Love Hotel, situated in the Korean quarter between Shinjuku and Shin-Okubo-cho. Today it houses art galleries, skater shops (and  skate ramp!), skater/punk fashion and dining and bar options. It’s where the alternative, heavily pierced and tattoo’d kids hang out. A great article on the Ghetto from Pingmag is well worth a read.

Ako Ahashi ran it and he explains the concept of the place:

“I wanted to make the kind of place that has wild parties like I have seen in old movies, with roots in graffiti, skating, and hip hop/rock culture…… which is now an art space for graffiti writers, includes a ramp, and features shops in a West Coast vibe…

The backbone of The Ghetto really consists of a lot of artists with various cultural influences. Some may be influenced by West Coast culture, but there is also a strong feeling of Made in Tokyo, Tokyo is best in there. But more than being influenced by something from the past, I think we are creating a message for the future.

On the first floor where the beds and baths once stood now exists an indoor skateboard ramp and cafe called Hell’s Kitchen. Upstairs is home to a cluster of independent stores stocking apparel and accessories from Japanese and foreign designers. The upstairs gallery also houses a variety of independent art works, films and displays often with special screenings or store collaborations.

One of the shops housed there was Scatterbrain, carrying the popular label Punkdrunkers, amongst many others.

and some merchandise
There was the Gallery/Event Space “Gallery 100”:

Restaurant and bar – Hells Kitchin
For lovers of art books, there was Gomineko Books
There were regular exhibitions of modern art including tattoo art and CD artwork:
this pic is from, of the artist SOWL’s work
So all in all, it was a pretty happening kind of place for those of the alternative, punk or skater persuasion. The neighbours, apparently, weren’t too impressed with the skater kids hanging around their quiet neighbourhood, so perhaps there was pressure on Ako to close. Or perhaps it was just the recession. If anyone knows the reasons, do let me know.
Let’s hope, with its closing, others will be inspired to set up more alternative culture centres.
For more info, check out the Ghetto website or read Ghetto magazine


  1. Sorry to tell you the bad news, but The Ghetto shut down in November. If you search the Japanese blogs, you can find pictures of the last day when they had one final rooftop live show.

  2. Dang, and I was just there in late October – thanks!

  3. shame its closed 🙁


  1. […] neighbourhood (there used to be a punk art/ghetto space until last year – see my post here). I’m keen to explore the area, and will post good videos this time! Share and Enjoy: Filed […]