Saunter down the two narrow streets running either side of the elevated railway line between Yokohama’s Koganecho and Hinodecho stations, and you’ll find around 80 bijou artists’ studios interspersed with a handful of hip galleries, bars and eateries. The shops lining these streets were, for decades, part of an illicit red light district, which gave the area a bad name. After the last of the brothels was shut down by police in 2005, art-loving citizens formed a not-for-profit group called Koganecho Area Management Center and proposed to fill the now-deserted buildings with studios and galleries.
Exhibition spaces include Gallery Made in Koganecho and MZ arts, while the artists’ studios are a spectacle too: many have windows onto the street, allowing glimpses of their occupants in the process of creating. Additionally, several studios dedicated to the Koganecho Artist in Residence (AIR) Program are periodically opened up for full public access. Autumn is the best time to visit, when the district hosts the Koganecho Bazaar art festival.