Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
The Japanese government expects the country to be swamped with tourists and it’s turning to an unexpected source for housing help: “love hotels.” According to an article in Mirror UK, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told the publication that he’s met with “love hotel” owners to work out arrangements. One owner of a chain commented: “Love hotels…can cater to 28 million guests a year. We can support the government’s idea of a nation of tourists.”
They are short-term rental establishments in Japan, oftentimes charging by the hour but the amounts charged varies. Some places charge $25-$50 for hourly periods and up to $130 for overnight stays. These establishments are popular with individuals engaging in illicit affairs, or couples needing space for personal pleasure since the nation’s populous areas feature dense housing and few options for privacy. They rarely allow large groups.
“Love hotels” are known for discretion, availability of intimacy items and special architectural themes. Parking lots and entrances are oftentimes hidden so that guests aren’t seen entering the hotels. Drivers enter underground car parks hidden from view and staff cover their number plates to foil any prying eyes. Tinted room windows provide additional privacy. Customers never see the employees, and likewise workers aren’t able to view guests. According to JapanVisitor.com:
An empty reception greets customers and a back-lit panel displays photographs of the available rooms. Pressing a button selects the chosen room, the light behind it goes out and lights on the floor act as a guide to the room. The open door closes behind you as you enter.
Rooms are fitted with TV channels, computers or network outlets, comfortable beds designed to maximize intimacy and erotic packs filled with sex lubes, aphrodisiacs, condoms, sex toys and other adult novelty items. Hotels will sometimes sport special themes, such as UFOs, replicas of famous cities, castles, roulette tables and other imaginative off-the-wall ideas.
The origins of “love hotels” begin during the Edo Period between 1603 and 1868. During those days, inns and teahouses offered discreet entrances and private play spaces. Popular in Edo and Kyoto, the concept begins spreading to Tokyo after World War 2 when Occupation forces occupy the nation. With the abolishing of legalized prostitution, the popularity of these places increases immensely when the trade moves underground. The 1960s and the prevalent usage of automobiles introduce the concept of motels, further spreading the concept of “love hotels”. Simultaneous residential trends favor small houses with multi-generational families living together, leaving little privacy for married couples and forcing them to utilize these establishments. By 1961, about 2700 inns were operating in Tokyo alone and started to feature erotic play equipment such as swings and vibrating beds. The Meguro Emperor opens in 1973, representing the first castle-style resort.
In 1984, “love hotels” begin to change. Now under the jurisdiction of the police, operators begin avoiding over-the-top designs to avoid the “love hotel” classification. They also start catering to women by offering spa-like services, karaoke, mood lighting and focusing more on fanciful interior decor. Hotel operators also start to use alternative names: “romance hotel”, “fashion hotel”, “leisure hotel”, “amusement hotel”, “couples hotel”, and “boutique hotel”.
“Love hotels” are more than sexual establishments. They continue to thrive in a challenging economy, boasting profits close to $40 billion/year. These places offer a cheap place to stay during your Japanese excursion, although prices may rise when the 2020 Olympic Games begin in August of that year. Some hotels will offer you Disneyland tickets and other premium gifts if you extend your stay. Anything for a buck and your patronage!
Given the complex and enduring history of the “love hotel”, it’s no surprise that this industry is well equipped to handle the expected surge of traffic for the 2020 Olympics.
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