Sunday Sweets: Rina Sawayama – Tokyo Love Hotel


Each week the Sunday Sweets team dive into our Sweet 16 and Feature Albums. 

Artist: Rina Sawayama
Track: Tokyo Love Hotel

London-based pop artist Rina Sawayama has released her debut album, SAWAYAMA. Sawayama’s contrasting identities are explored throughout the album. Born in Japan, she moved to London at age 5. These conflicts are disguised in ‘Tokyo Love Hotel’, which is a relaxing nightclub bop. The said track highlights the culture of her birthplace, despite growing up in a Western country

Sawayama’s lyrics give the impression that there’s a certain person ‘Tokyo Love Hotel’ is dedicated to, rather this song comes from the heart of someone who feels like an outsider in their country of origin. In her Genius Lyrics commentary, Sawayama notes that she was inspired by witnessing tourists yelling in Japan, which is disruptive and does not reflect the politeness of Japanese people.

Moreover, this pop song not only expresses Sawayama’s conflicts, it also promotes something Japan is famous for – its nightlife.  Tokyo’s liveliness is reflected through Sawayama’s light, soothing vocals and the glamorous upbeat instrumental. Listen to the song with your eyes shut, and Tokyo is what you’ll see.

‘Tokyo Love Hotel’ includes layers upon layers of highly addictive synth sounds and slow beats. Shinjuku’s Golden Gai, which is briefly mentioned in the lyrics, is known for its nightlife and neon lights. Even without paying attention to the lyrics, the song carries a similar aesthetic – its instrumentals letting listeners envisioning a place with neon lights.

According to PAPER Magazine, the songs in Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMAare set to merge western influences with stories exploring her background”. ‘Tokyo Love Hotel’ is one of the most powerful songs that prove this. It not only expresses Sawayama’s views and thoughts about her homeland, but also highlights her internal conflicts as a Japanese living in the UK. 

This is not “another song ’bout Tokyo”. It’s so much more, and it proves that Rina Sawayama is definitely an artist to look out for. 


Written by Gabriela Caeli Sumampow