Harajuku is paradise for the kinky, especially on Sunday, where the Goths and Lolitas go on parade. This is where the kawaii/cuteness culture explodes. It emerged in the 70's as a new style of writing, invented by teenage Japanese girls, where pictures of smiley faces, stars, hearts, etc. were randomly inserted between text. This was considered cute. You could say this was the first use of emoticons that we love so much. In the 80's, cute icons like Hello Kitty and later, Pikachu from Pokemon emerged and set the mold for things to come. Sociologists report that 'cute' is now considered a 'magic term' that encompasses everything that's acceptable and desirable in Japan.Japanese kids 'just wanna have fun'. Very much into fashion and boy bands/Johnnies, they roam the streets of Shibuya, where the famed multicrossing exists, until the last train at midnight. The worst swear word is the 4-letter word starting with 's' for excrement. F U or any equivalent does not exist as sex is not considered dirty or worth cursing about!
Love hotels exist out of sheer necessity due to the close living quarters and appreciation for privacy. In a country where sex is accepted without much of the guilt associated with it as in the West, a couple can rent a room for a few hours and be assured of anonymity. All transactions are done by video menu and vending machine. Love hotels cater to all tastes and desires from wild west rooms to private swimming pools to other less conventional preferences. There has been a shift in focus where the decor now caters for women's themes. Even single women utilise this facility for some luxury, privacy and space. For a particular comic writer whose illustrations revolve around the love hotel, these establishments are an extension of her office, so to speak. Riding the trains is where you can elbow in with everyday people. The Japanese have perfected the art of napping either sitting down or standing up as well as getting off at their stop. An urban legend tells of a salary man who has taken the train to work for the past 40 years and has only missed his stop 4 times - believe it or not? What used to be a reading society of standard-sized paperbacks and manga, has seen an obvious swing to MP3s, iPods and electronic devices, especially since the launch last year of Playstation Portable (PSP) and Nintendo DS.