Kapoors Year 2: China/India/Japan travel blog

The Neon Lights Of Shinjuku

The Lovely Hanazono Shrine Just Off The Main Road - So Peaceful...

The Entrance To Kabuki-Cho

Neon In Every Direction We Turned



Shinjuku is Tokyo's largest sub-centre and easily its most cosmopolitan. There are luxurious department stores, smoky jazz clubs and sleazy strip bars within a few blocks of each other. The Shinjuku train/subway station is the busiest in the world, a major transportation hub within Tokyo. This is the station with the reputation for white-gloved guards pushing commuters into the trains so that the doors can close. We chose to visit the area during the peak evening rush hour and although we didn't see the white-gloves we laughed when young girls kept pushing their way into the train calling out "Kowa-Bunga" several times. Could I have been hearing correctly?

We wandered around gawking at the neon lights for a while but then a light rain started up and we entered a small side street to view a shrine. I wish I had seen it in daylight because it had such a beautiful roof and bright orange lacquered walls and it's hard to capture it at night. The shrine is right beside the famous area known as Kabuki-cho.

Kaubki-cho is Japan's largest red-light district and it contains hundreds of restaurants, bars, sex clubs, pachinko parlors and love hotels. I’m told that the love hotels are often used by young married couples still living with their parents. Japanese homes are so small that the couples go to the love hotels to get some privacy – they are rented out by the hour or the whole night. Some are even completely automated so that you can sign in without ever having to face anyone who will know what you are coming for.

Kaubki-cho not a particularly dangerous area but guidebooks suggest you don't flash your wallet there. One man stopped us to ask where we were from and then spoke a little Hindi to Anil when he didn’t buy the ‘Canada’ reply. He told me he didn't think I would enjoy Kabuki-cho, it is mainly for men late at night. I agreed with him, so we headed back to the Shinjuku station and on to Shibuyu to our favorite little gyoza place to eat a light meal and a few cold beers from the menu vending machine. We loved the cozy atmosphere there and the friendly waiters.


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