The Kabukichou Love Hotel Murders

Kabukicho

Between March and June 1981, Tokyo’s red-light district was the sight of three unsolved murders, all of which occurred in love hotels.

Back in the 1980s, Akina Nakamori was one of the biggest pop stars in Japan. Compared to the other idol giant of the time, sweet goody two-shoes Seiko Matsuda, Nakamori sang gloomy songs about being a rebel and getting your heart broken. Recently, while exploring Nakamori’s back catalog, I heard a pretty catchy song called Shoujo A.

The title of the song literally means “Girl A,” but as one translator rendered it, it might better be understood in English as “Jane Doe.” In the Japanese media, for the sake of anonymity, names might sometimes be given as vague pseudonyms like Mr. A, Victim B, or Housewife C. In Nakamori’s song, the 17-year-old narrator calls herself Shoujo A, a nobody who isn’t special and can be found anywhere.

Now legend has it that Shoujo A was inspired by a series of unsolved murders in Tokyo’s infamous red-light district, Kabukichou. These murders, which all might have been committed by the same man, happened a year before the song’s release. The third victim was known as Shoujo A, and like the narrator of the Nakamori hit, was only 17-years-old.

Regardless of whether this is true or not, the story behind the rumor is an interesting one. Between March and June 1981, three women were killed in different love hotels in Kabukichou. The first body was found on the morning of March 20. The victim, Hostess A, had checked into the room with a young man the night before.

When it was coming time for check-out, the room didn’t answer the hotel’s calls. An employee sent to go check the room found Hostess A dead and alone. The cause of death was strangulation. A business card, belonging to Hostess A, identified her as a 33-year-old hostess at a local cabaret.

The name on the card, however, turned out to be a fake one.

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