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Neon Tokyo: Shibaura Love Hotels to Shinjuku Red Lights

In Kyomachi a cat prowling for love heads for Ageyamachi

Takarai Kikaku (1661-1707, also known as Enomoto Kikaku) was one of Basho's leading disciples. Kikaku preferred the city and the opportunities it provided for extravagant play. Kyomachi and Ageyamachi were districts inside the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters of Edo.

In contrast to our waking life phased with the Sun on the road in the little Mitsubishi van, our time in Tokyo has been almost wholly under the banner of the night. The first evening here we set off to see the love hotels of Dogenzaka hill in Shibaura and the red light district of Kabukicho in Shinjuku.

The love hotels were colourful additions to our collection, garish and blatantly offering different prices for a tryst or a night's sleep, all automated so you can register and use the available rooms without any human eyes falling on you. But they are also discrete enough that they don't look like they are bawdy brothels, after a 1980s court ruling that curtailed the more blatant extremes forcing many to masquerade as 'business hotels'.

Love hotel Ten Un

In complete counterpoint to the male-dominated eroticism of the red light district, one of the most prominent classes of clientele for love hotels are young single women wanting to have a discrete night out with a boy of their choosing.

Love hotel Casanova

Love Hotel Two-way

Foyer Two-way

The 'Two-Way" sported a luxurious foyer, like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with the front window adorned with Amazonian love birds, and the hall sporting New Guinea masks.

Automated booking window with separate charges for 'rest' and 'stay'.

Love hotel Dixy-inn

Love hotel Chandra

Love hotel Lutetia

Love hotel Fiesta

Love hotel Lumiere

A fast food restaurant fed through a ticket vending machine

Kimono shopping in Tokyo

The trains were absolutely packed to overflowing and as we arrived in Shibaura station, the streets were so crowded that there was barely room on the sidewalk, giving a feeling of utter claustrophobia. The evening is a time when Japanese who have been working hard all day can go to town shopping so it can be even more crowded than rush hours.

Shibaura panorama

We then made a very crowded transition by metro to Shinjuku to look at the red light district.

Shinjuku at night

Shinjuku panorama

Pink Cabaret trounces the Blue Movie

The red light district is similarly shielded from immediate view, so you only get a bare taste of it from the street with curtain-clad screens covered in Kanji and Katakana hiding most of the pleasures inside, ranging from the usual 'massage parlours' referred to as 'soap lands', through bottomless cafes, to cabarets with erotic acts inviting audience participation.

Intriguing was the prevalence of establishments offering male 'models' with teased haircuts, as frequent as the galleries of barbie doll girls, something which makes an intriguing commentary on Japanese sexual relations.

Those delectable naughty samurai boys!

Kabukicho angels for hire

Massage parlours girlie clubs and sake bars, all with covered doors

Your choice of doctors & nurses, barbie dolls, or bare-breasted sirens

Gaga at the Bingo