"Love is in the air, every sight and sound..." So sang John Paul Young in 1977...
A maddening multitude of salaried suits pressing into drinking alleyways to wash away the day's corporate labour means that love is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Shinjuku. The voyeuristic sights of Kabukicho, the backstreet drinking alleyways like Omoide Yokocho and the corporate runoff of a never ending stream of salaried men and women sees to that.
But she is there. Or he. Love. A little bubble of innocence and hope. And even the world's busiest train station with almost four million passengers surging through per day hasn't dampened all hope. Not yet anyway.
You see, in front of Shinjuku's I-Land Tower, a 44-storey bubble-economy inspired development in West Shinjuku, can be found a touch of love. Designed by the late American artist Robert Indiana, the LOVE sculpture is an iconic presence in the midst of corporate ambition, a reminder for the people of Tokyo that life can a have a more enjoyable motivation.
Couples have been meeting here for decades. A natural landmark in a city of landmarks, the LOVE sculpture's bright red colouring has acted as a beacon for thousands upon thousands of couples. Originally a design for a Christmas card, the pop-art image soon found its way onto stamps, its message sent around the world. A hint perhaps? A reminder to feel the good things in life?
A legend has grown around this sculpture. If you can pass between the V and E letters without touching either, your love will be returned in kind. A lovely sentiment. I recommend touching the letters anyway. With every sight and every sound... and every touch, yes, love is all of the senses. Welcome to Shinjuku.