Tokyo, Japan: Secret Streets: Vending Machines and Love Hotels


By the time I reached Tokyo as part of a ten day trip around Japan it was dusk. Not willing to wait until the next morning to discover the city, I set out with a map, a phrase book and some yen in my pocket.

Tokyo is a paradigm of hectic busy streets which are somehow welcoming to a traveller. It’s easy to find your way around Tokyo. The train system, which at first glance is mind boggling is actually quite simple. The locals are friendly and will always stop to assist a lost looking traveller.

Best Value Hotels in Tokyo, Japan

flickr image by T.Kiya

Each day 3 million people pass through Shibuya Square on their way to school, work or just going about their business. As one of the world’s busiest intersections, it’s very easy to feel like you are lost in a crowd here. At night things don’t get any quieter. Tokyo buzzes until first light, there is always plenty to do even if you don’t like bars and nightclubs.

Walking around Shibuya, there are plenty of things to see. The streets are lined with cafes that are open all night. Mangakissa, or Manga cafes, are placed where young Japanese gather to drink coffee and tea and read Manga comic books and check their email. You will be charged an hourly rate to hang out at a Mangakissa. For an additional fee the café patrons will welcome you to sleep the night on one of the comfy couches.

A common feature Tokyo, and in fact all of Japan, is the abundance of vending machines. No matter how busy or remote the place you visit you will find a vending machine. Most commonly found in vending machines are beverages, both hot and cold. You can even stop and get yourself a beer on the side of the road. My favourite vending purchase was hot coffee in a can. It sounds terrible, I know, but after 24 hours I was addicted to the warm and sweet coffee you can buy for ¥100. There is no limit to what you will find in a Tokyo vending machine. Magazines, toys, cameras, cigarettes, toilet paper and flowers have all been spotted.

On of the more intriguing concepts of Tokyo is the love hotel. Love hotels provide a pay-by-the-hour hotel room. The outside of a love hotel is brightly decorated, keeping no secrets as to its function and purpose. Each room inside has its own theme, décor and accessories. Spend a night in the jungle room, complete with bear rug and Tarzan robe. You may prefer the leather room, little explanation is required there.

Despite their lewd exteriors, Love hotels have a discreet side. Inside you book your room using an automated machine, you don’t need to talk to staff, although they are usually on hand to help. For the most part, love hotels are visited by young Japanese couples. Tokyo never sleeps, when you visit this vibrant city be prepared for the unexpected and the delightful.

Date posted: 28th October, 2010

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