Night life is fun, an escape from day life. It has, unfortunately, its seamier side. Consider Halloween. Once an innocent kids’ festival of costumed trick-or-treating, it’s now what young adults and Shibuya have famously made of it – mobbed chaos.
Halloween is only once a year. Nightlife is 365/7. After dark you cast off your daytime self, leave your daytime venues and head for where the night lights shine brightest. Shibuya, certainly, if you’re in Tokyo; or Shinjuku. Why, one wonders, is Spa! (Dec 17) not content to cover what goes on there on the surface? Not for lack of material, certainly. Maybe it’s too familiar to require coverage. So it digs a little beneath the surface, and finds – not hidden delights, but hidden pitfalls: crime, suicide, fraud, illegal prostitution and so on. It’s too bad! Why spoil a good time with naked truth?
Speaking of lost innocence. As good an example as any, while we’re still in Shibuya, is the evolution Spa! notices of a “free hug” fad – “Feeling lonely? Let me give you an innocent hug; you’ll feel better” – into “feel my breasts.” In retrospect it seems inevitable, if regrettable; simply a matter of time.
Shinjuku is more complicated. It had less innocence to lose. Prostitution has long been endemic to Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s entertainment core. Foreigners walking the streets have historically been from Southeast Asia, the magazine hears from local tour guide Masanori Sendo. Lately, he says, many are from such far-flung countries as Kenya and Spain, and so widespread is it that its outer fringe approaches an elementary school.
Counterfeit money is another problem. Where it comes from is a mystery, but it plagues the love hotel and erotic entertainment industries. There’s not much they can do about it. Many of these establishments are at best in a gray zone between legal and illegal. For them, contact the the police means not protection but potential ruin.
Host clubs abound in Shinjuku, and “host club journalist” Tomoya Kokorono reports a rise lately in suicides – club customers jumping off tall buildings at a rate, he says, of 2-3 a month. No explanation is offered, but here’s something else: last May a host was stabbed by a customer whose dissatisfaction must have reached fever pitch. The host recovered, returned to work, and even tried to use the incident for publicity – which didn’t seem to work, however. Kokorono’s conclusion: “Kabukicho is tough.”
Osaka is home to what’s considered “Japan’s top earning cabaret club” – the Kita Shinchi. Its biggest-spending clients are young people in their 20s, nouveau-riche with investment profits of various kinds. There’s something strange about some of them, staffers have observed. They’re regular customers, coming again and again, until suddenly they vanish, never to be seen again. What can have happened to them? One of two things, it appears. They were either arrested for fraud, or victims of it.
That’s the dark side of night life, Spa! seems to be saying.© Japan Today