By: Rachel Nuwer

Like thousands of other Tokyo visitors on a recent summer day, we beelined for Asakusa, a popular tourist district. My companion and I were drawn not by the neighborhood’s famous Buddhist temple or its renowned geisha shows but by ivory. Banned in much of the world, here in Japan ivory is still sold openly and legally.

The hunt didn’t take long. Weaving through selfie-snapping crowds, past the thunderous booms of a live drum band and the tantalizing smells of freshly baked takoyaki, we stopped at random at a shop to ask for directions. We’d heard that a particular jewelry store nearby sold Chinese-style ivory jewelry. The shopkeeper shook his head: He didn’t think that place was around anymore. “But if it’s ivory you’re looking for,” he said, “I can help you.”

Stay in touch and get the latest WildAid updates.


About WildAid

WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. 

Journalists on deadline may email