Saturday, December 12, 2009
The rationale and logic behind the creation of love hotels is simple – Japanese houses have traditionally been very small, with thin walls, and, even still in some cases today, all members of the family sleep in the same room lined up in futons along the floor. Often, the grandparents will also live in the same house. Thus, there is no place for husband and wife to go, making a love hotel an attractive place, not only just to spend a raunchy time with your spouse, but also to get some time away from the family for a couple of quiet hours!
The demand for hotels increases exponentially when you include singles who still live with their parents, common especially for those born in Tokyo where is doesn’t make sense to pay to rent your own apartment as well as those people in Sexless Marriages, a topic which has been discussed at length at Stippy.com. It appears that in many cases the marriage can be sexless, but not so for the husband and wife individually. These people form part of the regular clientèle for hotels, and it is no surprise that love hotels are now scattered all throughout Japan, and are a booming business.
The idea that hotels are a great business opportunity has not been lost by a company founded by foreigners in Tokyo who have formed a Leisure Hotel fund, and are buying up hotels around the Tokyo region. They have had great success in entering an industry that has been notoriously difficult for reputable companies to enter.
Anyway, back to the good stuff, the way it works is simple:
* You pay for either a “rest”, usually 2 or 3 hours, or for the evening, usually until 10am the next morning. The costs are around 3,000 yen for a rest, and 10,000 yen for the entire evening, although it gets much more expensive for more popular and wacky the hotel gets. The larger size of the room, the more expensive also.
* Most hotels do not take bookings. For an overnight stay, you usually need to arrive between 8-10pm on weeknights, and 10-12am on Fridays and Saturdays. In some hotels, leaving the room forfeits your access and you cant get back in. However once you are in, you definitely will not be bothered!
* In the lobby of the hotel is a big board with pictures of each room, with differing price depending on the size and “amenities” etc. When you arrive at the hotel, you can select the type of room which takes your fancy and fits your budget by looking at the pictures on the board.
* Check-in is done (almost) anonymously by pressing lit up button on the board which corresponds to the room you want. If the button and back lighting behind the picture on the board is not lit, it means that room is taken.
* Once the button is pressed, a gender-neutral old lady will come to the reception with a key. The reception is basically a hole in the wall, at about waist height to ensure secrecy. You pass the money through, and receive the key. In some hotels payment can be made by a automatic machine in each room, or by using an “air-chute” which connects to the reception.
The irony of the price of a night in a hotel is that it is often cheaper than a regular hotel, and regular hotels don’t usually come with plasma TVs, full-sized beer vending machines, spa baths, rotating beds, PlayStations, and karaoke! Love hotels also can come equipped with any of: water bed, SM chair, wardrobes of costumes, disco balls hanging from the roof, pachinko machines, massage chairs, spa baths, and even sometimes a sauna! Now thats what I can leisure…
Weird Hotels: You can choose to be locked in this thing.. whatever it is!
Love hotels tend to be clustered in the big cities, and a local pastime is “love hotel shopping”, where couples can be seen walking in and out of the lobbies of adjacent hotels looking to see what types of rooms there are. From a foreign perspective an area of clustered love hotels would seem to be a seedy environment inhabited by pimpy old men with unsavoury women in tow, however this is not the case. On a Friday or Saturday night in these areas, many a young happy couple can be spotted hand in hand darting in and out of hotels with enjoyable and fun expressions on their faces. They are just normal people who have nowhere else to go, and the area can have quite a romantic atmosphere.
The interior of many hotels has an element of fantasy, to help people escape from the Taihen Cloud which hovers over their regular lives. The elaborate decor can range from semi-normal, to simulated subway or religious bondage, with also sorts of kink in between.
A Kitty-chan theme (pictured on left). One for Paris Hilton perhaps?
There are a number of interesting books already out in English such as Pink Samurai, which covers the history of love hotels and this aspect of Japanese culture in details, as well as Love Hotels, in which American photographer Misty Keasler portrays some of the newest, most creative love hotels in Japan, or aggregated introduction websites such as the Love-Guide (Japanese).
We will also be posting interesting videos and our thoughts on the newest, coolest, and weirdest love hotels in Japan over the coming year, so don’t forget to check back with us when you have a free few minutes every now and then.
We would also love to hear some suggestions from people of hotels that we must include, as well as peoples interesting love hotel stories!