The 2004 novel After Dark centers entirely around one single neighborhood: Shibuya. The novel is told from the perspective of a floating camera which phases in and out of different scenes, merely observing the characters and their actions over the course of a single night. We’re taken into the worlds of 19-year-old Mari, young jazz musician Takahashi and love hotel manager Kaoru as they try to cope with a stressful night in Shibuya’s red-light district.
SHIBUYA NIGHT TOUR ITINERARY
The Murakami Pilgrimage contains an itinerary for those who wish to explore the popular neighborhood at night. While the characters in the story stay out until morning, it’s entirely possible to explore the main locations from the novel before the last train home. Depending on where you’re staying, the last train could be any time between midnight and around 1am. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck waiting for the first morning train from around 5am.
The ‘Love Hotel Hill’ area overlaps both the Dogenzaka and Maruyamacho districts. You’ll find a countless number of love hotels lining every street in the area but there are a lot of other things going on as well.
This area happens to be home to many of Tokyo’s most famous music venues like O-East, Duo Music Exchange and Womb. You’ll also find a number of smaller DJ bars and tiny live houses here. There’s a lot going on even on the weekdays, so if you plan on staying out in Shibuya until morning, this is probably the place to do it. Be sure to check out shibuyaguide.com for more details on Shibuya nightlife.
The Denny’s and Skylark (now Gusto) restaurants that the protagonists visit are likely located in Shibuya’s Jinnan district, about a 10 minute walk from ‘Love Hotel Hill.’
The two restaurants are right by one another, and just beyond is the small park that’s the likely inspiration for the one where Mari and Takahashi have a chat.
Outside of Shibuya, the scenes with Mari’s older sister Eri mostly take place in their home in the southern residential district of Hiyoshi. Takahashi lives in Koenji, a neighborhood which plays a prominent role in 1Q84, but it’s only mentioned briefly and none of the scenes in After Dark take place there. The creepy villain Shirakawa lives in the neighborhood of Tetsugakudo, Nerima Ward.