Hotel La Cachette (A)
I often take a picture of this particular love hotel in Asakusa. I noticed that it appeared in a series of Franck Bohbot photographs called Tokyo Murmurings, which is pictures of empty Tokyo streets at night or at dusk. The hotel is a short walk from my tower in Senzoku. It's in a stretch of Asakusa that feels somehow in-between--in between the tourist quarters around Sensō-ji to the south and the pink neon district of Yoshiwara to the north. Maybe Hanayashiki Amusement Park is in that in-between area, too. I think it might be. Even on days that Nakamise-dori is clogged with pedestrians, the area toward the park is quiet enough that you can hear the creak and rattle of the roller coasters. The covered sidewalks on Senzoku-dori are in there, too--not quite Asakusa and not quite Yoshiwara. Gone soon. Too close to Asakusa not to scoop up and put condos down on. Hotel La Cachette is a holdout. It looks out of place there, rising above the low city, with the plastic shell over its concrete core shifting from soft green-turquoise-blue to a sharper neon red-jade-emerald and back to the softest purple-pink-yellow. If I am in the right part of the neighborhood, when it's dark enough to enjoy the illumination, I'm usually going to a bar that's a few steps from the entrance to the hotel. There are bars closer to my tower and on the walk to Asakusa, I pass the narrow bar streets that run along the southern edge of Yoshiwara. The bars nearest to my tower have never pulled me past the front door or kept me for longer than a single drink. The small bars near Yoshiwara feel unwelcoming. The bar I go to in Asakusa is a dive. There are ten stools. There's a good range of bourbon. The boss drinks milky shōchū on ice and smokes Peace. When you order a second drink, you hand your glass over the bar and get it refilled. It has a theme, too: the sign on the door says "& VARIOUS BLACK MUSIC." The last time I went, the playlist was: Bobby Womack, the Delfonics, Howlin' Wolf, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton, James Brown, and Willie Hutch. The Willie Hutch was from a dusty copy of The Mark of the Beast (1975) brought in by a man that was not a regular but lived in the neighborhood and brought in the record thinking the boss would appreciate it. He accepted a highball, while the first side of the LP was played. There was one other patron in the bar, an older woman, who came in late, drank highballs and requested the Kenny Rogers-Sheena Easton duet. I drank three oolong highs. I took my picture of Hotel La Cachette as I left, sometime around 2:30 in the morning.