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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


A "Love" Hotel

A "Love" Hotel, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

The ubiquitous short stay hotel, affectionately know as love hotels or in abbreviated Japanese rabuho, with prices by the hour or two, and by the night if you come after about 10pm. They are usually situated at the outskirts of town, sometimes in a hotel complex (there are two affilated hotels in this photo) often, in rural areas for privacy, and near motorway interchanges for easier access. They are, of course, hotels primarily designed for the purpose of having sex.

Two condoms usually in a little basket, are invariably provided at the head of the bed, and sometimes there are vending machines selling sex toys.

The rooms are often themed, with such varieties as: classic four-poster-bed style, slightly Japanese style, mirrored ceiling, gymnasium style, wild west style, cute-pink and pastel shades style, disneyland style, or simply various styles of interiour decoration. The style of interiour decoration will be displayed on a poster outside the room or in the front lobby.

The rooms often have jaccuzzi baths, and one room or "cottage" in this complex has a sort of swimming pool bath with flowing water so that one can swim without going forward - the swimming equivalent of a jogging machine/treadmill.

Typical prices are about 60-70 dollars for 2 hours and (after 10 pm) 100 dollars till the next morning. Users are typicallly young couples that live at home, parents and couples that live in three generation households who do not have a sufficiently private space in their homes, those having extra marrital affairs, and occasionally men who are accompanied by or who order prostitutes (or "delivery" "health" masseuse) to the rooms.

I am not aware of the existance of short stay hotels in the UK. In the USA there are short stay hotels but they generally serve only the latter type of customer, so I am told.

Love hotels are often fullly booked on Christmas Eve when it is traditional to take ones girlfriend out for a bonk, such is the Japanese idea of the spirit of Christmas.

"Love" (appropriately pronounced "rub") Hotels are usually set up in such a way so that the occupants of the rooms do not need to meet the hotel proprietors. As one enters the room the door is automatically locked so that one can not leave (except in emergency) without depositing money in a vending machine. Alternatively the front desk of the hotel in an urban situation may be a kiosk with a small window such the desk clerk and the customers can not see each other. Before the advent of vending machines controlling door locks, there were sometimes systems of pipes that allowed customers to send payment in canisters sucked or blown down a network of pneumatic pipes.

The rooms are often very spacious, with living room areas, large (often glass walled) bathrooms, and king sized beds. The rooms of the hotel in this photograph are semidetached masionettes, with a living room and bathroom area on the ground floor, and a bedroom on the upper floor.

From a British point of view, their is a definate strangeness, which seems to lie in the difficulty of visiting (with a partner) a space whose purpose is so overt.

British couples take each other back to their respective apartments with the tacit assumption that sex may be on the cards, but at the same time with possibility that they may just watch TV, drink tea, or fall asleep in various degrees of proximity ("I'll take the couch").

When taking someone to a love hotel on the other hand, there is presumably an overt assumption, that one is going there for the purpose of copulation. Not withstanding the euphamistic name, "love hotels" are a space designed and designated for purpose of sex acts. An invitation to a love hotel is thus, not just "lets go back to my/your place for a bonk," but "lets go to a sex gymnasium," or "lets rent a room for ****ing in."

Having said that, some Japanese couples do just go to enjoy the themes and luxury of the love hotel environmment. And they are luxurious, and a nice place to stay even if you do not use them in the way that their designers had in mind.

Unfortunately, love hotels sometimes do not welcome single customers, or groups (such as groups of backpackers).

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.