Archive for January 8, 2008

Love Hotels: Japan’s Home Away From Home

A couple years back I found myself testing out the mattress of one of Japan’s notorious love hotels. I wasn’t exactly bouncing on the bed. It was more like checking for stains, wet spots and, heaven-forbid, curly hairs. I was there with my little brother, and before you jump to conclusions, know that we were there because it was the only place in Tokyo with an opening at a half past midnight. We were on a low-budget vacation and I’d foolishly assumed we could crash at a friend’s apartment. Next thing I knew, that friend was dropping us off at Hotel Cupid.

Among Japan’s densely packed households, love hotels serve an integral purpose of allowing couples time away from the rest of the world. High rent and free meals compel most single adults into their 30s to live with parents. So when they finally meet that dream guy/girl, love hotels become their home away from home.

The registration counter resembles the bulletproof kiosk of a gas station with window plastered in paper so you can’t put a face to the attendant’s voice. After you select a room – images are posted on a wall – you exchange your money for keys and head upstairs. You can either pay by the hour or pay for the night which amounts to no more than a luxurious night at Motel 6.

Our room came with its own Vegas slot machine (in case we really wanted to get lucky?), Jacuzzi bathtub and porn TV. Bathroom amenities included various creams and lubricants. Flavored condoms were undoubtedly sold separately in the hallway next to the soda machine. And though I’m sure most other love hotels smell of perfume and roses, ours room reeked of passion-laced funk. That’s why at 1 a.m. my brother and I were doing a thorough inspection of the place; lifting sheets, the mattress, the bed itself. I wrapped a bath towel over my pajamas just to be on the safe side.

Love hotels join the ranks of perverted oddities that make Japan such an interesting place to foreigners, and although I assumed it was used exclusively by two-timers and prostitutes, the more friends I made in Japan the more I realized it was far from that. It’s just a room with sound-resistant walls. And it’s located miles away from your mother.


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January 8, 2008 at 9:04 am 1 comment

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January 2008


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