Beyond Shibuya’s Pretty Neon Lights!


So a few months ago I was transferred to the Shibuya branch of my company, I had been at the Shinagawa branch for a bit over a year now.

When I heard this news, I was thrilled, especially at the fact that I get to work in one of the most modern and attractive cities in all of Japan! At night all the neon signs light up the walkways! No street lights are needed! Along with every single shop available within walking distance! The thought of this alone fills my veins with adrenaline!

I remember searching for my Shibuya office for the first time and following the route on Google maps, I begin walking through the famous Shibuya Crossing, thinking ‘wowwww… Do I get to go through here every day? Talk about the best stroll to work!’. Followed by, passing the famous Shibuya 109 building, which also adds to this priceless commute.

All is not what it appears …

However, after passing by these landmarks, I then come to the famous ‘Love Hotel’ lane (not exactly a tourist attraction) and realize I have less than 300m to go to reach my destination. ‘Surely it’s not located here, this has to be a mistake!’ I’m trying to convince myself.

For those of you who don’t know what a love hotel is, they are famous for having a 2 / 3-hour ‘rest period’. And it only costs about 3000-5000yen, depending on which hotel it is.

After turning right, and then left multiple times I felt like I had literally passed almost every single Love Hotel in Tokyo. I walk through a tiny lane and suddenly see my company’s name, on top of a small building, pop out in front of me! Yet, it is neatly fit in between two dodgy buildings.

Maybe you could guess, on the right side there was a Love Hotel, and on the left side, another Love Hotel.

Even directly across… Yep, you guessed it! a third Love Hotel!

However, I tried to change tune and instantly started thinking like the younger me. ‘This is gonna be so cool!’ imagining how many interesting “things” I’ll be observing on my fresh, yet eye-opening new hike to work.

The first day at my new branch …

On my first day, I arrive early (9 am, Tuesday) the office doesn’t open until 9:30, so I wait out the front, and so the action begins… I see many couples entering Love Hotel’s together casually like it’s just a shopping centre.

I see people arriving separately, and those who are arriving separately are either older men or young women, dressed like they have a modelling shoot to attend.

I even see some casually walking past the love hotel, hovering around waiting until no one notices them, and then swiftly dive into the entrance, this was the most surprising for me.

A good amount of people entering are wearing masks (a default in Japan), and to be totally honest with you, I personally wouldn’t want to be seen entering this kind of building either! My boss finally arrives and gives me a concerned look and says in Japanese ‘stop fooling around, kid!’, being from Osaka he is the complete opposite of my previous boss!

He lets us into the tiny office and gives me the full, yet very short tour. I ask him ‘where is the restroom?’ He glances at me with a smirk and says ‘there isn’t any restroom if you need to use the restroom we have to use the one next door … in the love hotel! Now you can say you go to love hotels 5 times a week!’

On my second day of commuting, I am taken back by the cutest girl I have seen in a long time, and what was crazy about the situation was her smile, directed straight at me. My heart suddenly began to beat 100 times faster. We were walking towards each other, and at the same pace too, but before I knew it she makes a last minute turn into the closest love hotel…

After my first week, I think to myself I’ve seen it all…

The rabbit hole becomes deeper still …

Now after more than a few months of working in this confusing, yet intriguing area, I’ve seen so much more. Vehicles with pitch black windows dropping off women who look like models, and dressed like you wouldn’t believe…

I have even seen other attractive women arriving in more casual attire, but carting a very large suitcase into some of these short-term passion palaces. One could only guess what kind of outfits and other party tricks she has stashed away in there.

There was even one time, I was out the front of my office just getting some air, where I saw an elderly man exit the hotel opposite, he would have been no taller than 4’11, and soon after him follows this tall, slender looking women, no older than 25, who would have stood over 6ft tall exiting with him. She starts to help him with his jacket, and then I hear him stutter to her ‘uh uh … thank you, and … thank you for your services. N-Now which direction are you walking to…?’

Perhaps the most interesting observation I have made was later in the evening, I’m back in the Love Hotel lobby waiting to use the one single restroom that is currently occupied. Then that familiar elevator ‘ding’ chimes from across the room, as the doors open my eyes are drawn towards the most attractive women I have ever seen in my life. She walks out with a confident stride, and in close pursuit 2 other gentlemen, one who is holding a tall tripod with connected camera. If anything was for certain that day, that was not your run of the mill photo shoot!


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