Crashing Japan
Shinjuku and Kabukicho

by Bamboo Dong, Sep 19th 2007

When most people think of Tokyo at night, they think of lights, lights, and even more lights. Maybe a few drunk business men here and there, but only in the context of stumbling through streets filled with light. While there are a lot of neighborhoods in central Tokyo that fit the bill, one place to definitely check for round-the-clock action is Shinjuku, especially Kabukicho.

Shinjuku is the administrative center of Tokyo, housing buildings like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It also houses the busiest train station in the world, Shinjuku Station, which sees more than 3 million people every day. The former is the tallest building in Japan, so it's no surprise that it often makes cameo appearances in a lot of anime series as a major landmark. In fact, if anyone's ever seen Digimon Tamers, you'll recognize the building as the secret headquarters for the Hypnos organization. It's featured in X, too, as the location of Beast and the headquarters for The Dragons of Earth.

Travel a few blocks northeast, though, and you'll find yourself deep in the heart of Kabukicho, a place famous for its red-light district, its ample bars, and its abundance of host and hostess clubs, where people can wander in and pay for the privilege of chatting with beautiful members of the opposite sex. Supposedly the yakuza hang around the area, too, but unless you know what you're looking for (and I don't), then you're not likely to see them.

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