Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Japan Love Hotels: We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I've always found it interesting to compare the sexual customs of cultures around the globe, and Japan love hotels are definitely a great example of this. Love hotels in Japan are literally rent-a-room facilities in which couples can go away together to have sex in private. Rooms are typically rented by the hour, and you can't schedule an overnight stay until after 10:00 PM (ha!). Daytime visits usually receive discounted rates, and discretion is top priority for hotel staff. In fact, the lobby has shielded vestibules that occupants can wait in until their "date" arrives, and simply exiting the hotel is accepted as a usual method of check-out.

Traditionally, love hotels have been frowned upon by the Japanese public, and their services have been forced into creepy UFO-type buildings with gray walls and no windows. However, within the past couple of years, several architectural projects have been designed to improve the comfort, aesthetic, and "sexiness" of love hotels. Take, for instance, this project, which was a book published in 2006 containing photos of some of the most creative new love hotel rooms being built in Japan today. I especially enjoyed the Cosmic Galaxy Room (the "rocket" similes are endless):

As well as the Ice Cube Room:

On the other hand, some of the rooms are extremely creepy, such as the "Kiddie" Room (shudder):

And the "Subway" Room ("Step right up and grope a stranger today!"):

Note the comments left from visitors who are quite disturbed by the hotel room pictures. However, poster ceejay makes an interesting point, which may serve to show that being freaked out by another culture is usually the same thing as not understanding it.

"An important point about love hotels is that they are not just for illicit affairs. Traditionally and still in rural areas, the whole extended family lived together. So husband, wife, grandmother, grandfather, children... all under one roof. The only way married couples can get some privacy and nookie would be to check into one of these love hotels."

So, Japanese love hotels: creepy or functional? You be the judge.


Jarod said...

Hope they have a good housekeeping service!

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