Love Hotels ;D
This is always a fun one to explain to visiting parents of international students in Japan. If the words Love, Chapel, Leisure, Theme or Boutique is in the name or description of the hotel, you may be staying at a love hotel. Even if it isn’t immediately apparent in the name, the gaudy signs will usually give it away. If you can’t read the signs, take a look at some of the decor on or around the building. For a good example, check out the pelican statue, water fall, and over-the-top decor of the hotel in the photos above.
So what is a love hotel exactly?
A love hotel is a hotel where people (usually couples) can rent a room for varying lengths of time: from minutes to entire overnight stays. Love hotels are primarily in the business of privacy. Whatever you decide to do with your rented privacy is, of course, up to you, but I’m sure you can guess what sort of activities most people choose to engage in.
The origin of the love hotel dates back to the Edo Period; in Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto tea houses—essentially brothels—would use the guise of an inn to mask the true nature of the activities taking place within the establishment’s walls. Secret tunnels or procedures for a discrete entrance and exit from the building were also a part of the service provided for the patrons. These features still exist in most, if not all, modern love hotels. The customers enter from either an underground or covered parking lot, and the entryway is designed so patrons entering or leaving usually never see each other.
Love hotels aren’t a unique Japanese invention, however. The need for privacy is a big issue in most East Asian countries where over-population mixed with housing shortages is common, so these sort of love hotels can also be found in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Owning a love hotel is also very profitable. In Japan, the love hotel industry netted a yearly profit nearly four times greater than that of Toyota Motors; estimated at about 4 trillion yen.
As I stated before, the way in which you decide to use the space is completely up to you, and some people have even stayed in them for long periods of time (I’m assuming they had no other options or didn’t know the difference between a love hotel and a regular hotel when booking the room). One man was quoted when asked why he used love hotels that, “I go to love hotels when I’m drunk and don’t feel like going home.” Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly since they aren’t brothels any more), love hotels’ prices are about the same as a normal hotel in Japan. The only real difference is the over-the-top decor and the mysterious lack of visible hotel personnel. So, be it that you and another person are looking for a nice place to have a good time, or actually need a comfortable place to sleep, a love hotel is a viable option.
If you would rather not touch one of these places with a 10-foot poll, consider yourself educated.
Love Hotel Signs:
South Korea Love Hotel:
The Japan Times:
My Months in a Love Hotel:
CNN - Love Hotels:
- itte-kimasu posted this