So what do you do after night falls in Shinjuku? In our case, just dinner and a quick walkabout, but still, Shinjuku at night proffers out her sights and sounds to those willing to explore her underbelly.The night is young. Off the beaten tracks lie sights and sounds different from those on the high streets.
Right smack in the middle of bustling Shinjuku 1-chome, there lays a shrine hidden off a side street. This astonishes me the most in Japan, where the ultra modern live in seamless harmony with tradition. Lanterns light the way, flanked by dormant trees with ominous, meandering branches that would be quite a spectacle for visitors come Spring. Right now, it reflected the grim times of economic uncertainty, a fitting reminder of our own struggles in life against the machine.
What better way to sooth one’s soul than to ask for blessings from the heavens. A quick tug at the bells draws the attention of the deity enshrined within, and we pray for salvation for our pathetic souls.
Things are looking up already or are they? Have these cherry blossoms come too early only to die out before Spring? Or is there a deeper meaning in that as with happiness as in sorrow, these emotions are fleeting like the fragility of a blossom’s beauty?
Provoked by such profound messages sent from the heavens, I set off in contemplation to the most infamous of red-light districts, Kabuki-cho.
No, these are not workers of the night, just ordinary people going about their lives. Kabuki-cho is not as seedy as it once was, or was it still too early?
Away from the girlie bars, peep shows, sex shops and sleazy joints that pepper this area, Kabuki-cho has somehow lost its character. Several years ago, one could not walk down this street without being accosted by African, Japanese, Chinese or Korean guys asking if I wanted to ‘feel good tonight.’
Yes, these guys are still around, but things are more civil now, or perhaps this time around, we did not venture into the seedier areas. Shinjuku nights just aren’t the same anymore, or maybe the years have caught up and its no longer as exciting. Tokyo, I love this city.