The Heritage of Japanese Comfort Houses in Shanghai
The Japanese presence in Shanghai between the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895 and the end of the military occupation of 1945 shaped many of the city’s oldest areas. This is especially so in the Hongkou area in the north of Shanghai, where this history and legacy is most visible. It is here that an important Japanese community settled down throughout the 20th century. Houses here were built with a hybrid architectural style encompassing both European and Japanese influences.
Yet of those structures still standing, some of them carry an even darker and more disturbing past: those converted into comfort houses, inns where abducted Chinese women were forced to cook, clean, and cater to the sexual needs of Japanese soldiers. Blogger Anne Sue recounts the story of these old villas and stops by to investigate the history of one on Menghua Jie (梦花街) in an old Shanghai lilong (lane and alleyway) neighborhood.