Off-topic: Bad economy foils Japan's Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills was the shining star. Without bankers money the sheen has worn off for the locals.

If you're not familiar with Roppongi Hills, it's a giant development in Tokyo with high-end shops and housing. It's known for having lots of ex-pat bankers from Lehman, Goldman Sachs as locals and a bar/mating scene unlike anywhere else on earth.

But all is not well says the Times Online. The down economy and failing banks are dragging down the image of the area, despite a $4 billion developer investment.

It is Thursday night and Roppongi romance - or at least, the calculated brand of romance that used to be the currency in this Tokyo bar - is at death's door. Heartland, with its low lights and brushed-steel tables, has made its name as a favourite with the financial great and good and the occasional Japanese celebrity. In the warm months drinkers spill out on to the street. However, the bar that once boomed with British brokers, Australian traders, American hedge-fund managers and those Japanese women who would love them has fallen eerily silent. More damningly, says Heartland veteran and former Roppongi barmaid Eriko Masabuchi, it has gone "image down".

Roppongi Hills' bizarre (and sinking) subculture is profiled at the Times Online.

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