22 October 2012

Beginners' Guide to Love Hotels

Sex, death and sky tree

Love hotels - they aren't all Hello Kitty theme rooms but they sure are a lot of fun.  I've known a few people who've said they never saw a love hotel on their visit to Japan but they probably didn't know what to look for.

In a country where kids often live at home until they are married - an a home with very thin walls at that - love hotels are an essential.  For the adult kids and the even more adult parents.

Love hotels are a dangerous temptation for me.  It's not like I'd go to a love hotel every time a guy asked me but if they are in that grey area of yes/no/maybe, the thought of exploring another love hotel might just push me over the edge.

How to find a love hotel:

In Tokyo, there are certain districts that known for their love hotels.  Love Hotel Hill in Shibuya is the most famous but the area with the highest number of love hotels is Uguisudani (near Ueno).  I'm not sure if that's because it's close to the former Yoshiwara pleasure district or some other reason.

The Uguisudani area has a seedy feel to it with blocks and blocks filled with love hotels.  For some reason, a lot go for a South East Asian feel.

Despite the seediness and the feeling that some dodgy business is happening around you, you don't get hassled.

Outside of the main areas, it's easy to spot love hotels.  They are the places that offer rates for a "short rest" or a "long rest".  Tip: avoid guys who go for the short rest!  They often have weird, cutesy English names too.

What to expect:

I've never done the financial transaction side of things, so I can't tell you how that works.  A lot of places have a board with pictures of the room so you can select which one you want.  Some places are automated but others have human staff.

Several of the places I've been to have a twee waiting room for ladies while you wait, with lace curtains to protect your privacy.

The rooms themselves can vary greatly.  One place I went to offered a room with grand piano.  There are places set up with medical or BDSM themes and then just plain rooms.  Mostly the rooms are very spacious (I did go to one with a room the size of a broom closet).  You might get a karaoke machine or other entertainment in your room.  Skip the porn channel though.  Japanese porn is bad -- and all the good bits are pixelated.

Most love hotels give you a huge array of toiletries to use.  Much more than you'd get in your standard hotel room.  Full skin care ranges for men and women as well as shampoos and other goodies.  

Naturally, all rooms have a bathroom.  Japanese people tend to be fastidious about showering before and after sex plus bathrooms can be fun!

Love hotel facts:

Saturday afternoons are prime time for love hotels.  You might have to wait for a room unless you have a booking.  Yes, you can book ahead!  It makes sense when you think about it.  Teenagers can tell their parents they are studying with friends, married couples can say they are going out shopping and get away from their kids and in-laws, cheaters can claim work or hobby time.

Love hotels have point cards.  You can get awesome rewards like electronic appliances (of the home, not sexual, kind) and other goods.  Some love hotels have discount times or days when you use them or give you a coupon to get a discount if you return.  Apparently some even have "lucky" rooms where you can get extra points.

Seedy love hotel room - I wanted the premium room with the grand piano!

You can order in food or take your own snacks and drinks.

Most love hotels have security cameras pointed at the doors (not inside the room but in the corridor).  If you are with someone you don't know well, make sure you get them recorded on the camera for your own safety.  Also, if they see your partner leave the room alone, they will call the room to make sure you are okay.  There really isn't much reason to leave the room mid-visit.  Most hotels, as mentioned above, will bring food, drinks, even cigarettes or more condoms to your room.  Of course, it's important to be careful and protect your own safety.

Love hotel districts tend to have really awesome yakitori stands.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe people need to have some protein to regain their strength after a full-on bonking session.

Love hotels aren't seen as particularly seedy or shameful in Japan.  It's a normal part of life and a lot more considerate than subjecting your family, housemates or neighbours to the noise of a loud session of hawt sex.

"Lingerie" vending machine.  Not, I think, one of the infamous used knicker machines, but just for a change of underwear before you head back to the office.  I might be wrong though...

Have you ever been to a love hotel?  Would you like to visit one?


  1. I wish we had love hotels. In the apartment I live in the walls are thin too. One of my neighbors is very courteous and it is very rare that we hear their sexy time noises.... and even when we do it is not very loud. My other neighbors on the other hand are LOUD. And seeing them daily gives me a bad mental image of them mid coitus. I think it makes it worse that their bedroom window is caddy corner from mine and they ALWAYS have their window open.
    I wouldn't mind spending some money for the extra amenities you can get at a love hotel that you don't have at home. What's the cost range for these hotels?

  2. I've been pretty lucky with neighbours but one of my friends had someone in his apartment ask him to tone it down a bit! That was pretty funny, and I think it worked.

    To be honest, I've never paid for a a love hotel, though one night I was stranded alone in Ikebukuro and all the internet cafes and karaokes were full so was very tempted to get try the love hotels.

    I think you can get an overnight stay for around $50-80 but it varies so much with the location, the amenities etc.

    The ones around Uguisudani (in my pics) would be much cheaper than say Shibuya. I did notice one near where I used to work that had a deal for around $25 for weekday afternoons. I think that was the same place that offered the golf channel!

  3. I've lived in Japan thrice, but sadly, never had the opportunity to check out a love hotel for myself*. It's on my bucket list, even if it's just me and a friend going "oh my god they could never clean this enough." From a cultural stand point however, it's quite the thing to contemplate.

    *Which makes writing about them all sorts of fun. Oh well, more reason to research!

    Also, can we get this in big, bold lettering across the sky?

    "Japanese porn is bad"

    Because. Seriously. I've written academic papers on the awfulness that is Japanese porn.

  4. I took a gay friend sightseeing and it was cold and rainy day. We'd gotten wet were walking by a love hotel advertising jacuzzis! I wanted to go in and dry off and have jucuzzi time but he freaked out about what they'd think. I pretty much think they don't care so long as they are getting their cash.

    Japanese porn is so bad, in a technical sense but I think the "soft porn" is worse. I find the sexualisation of underage girls really disturbing.

  5. Johanna1:52 pm

    I knew about love hotels, but never knew this much! And I think they are a fabulous idea.

  6. Thanks. I think they are pretty nifty too :D

  7. Anonymous5:12 am

    "Japanese Porn is bad"

    Sorry that's a bit arbitrary; I have a lot of friends who are not into Asian girls, yet swear blind on them. Perhaps they are shot too much from a male perspective, (which is understandable as guys happen to be the majority of their audience) or perhaps they are just one of those things which are not everyone's cup of tea. However, I feel compelled to point out that it is a multi-billion dollar industry, even outside of Japan, so to just brush them off as "bad" doesn't do them justice.

    I heard it once from a Japanese friend; (I didn't care enough to verify his account), that the main reason for the pixelation is that in Japan, they were allowed to show hardcore pornography on TV just outside of the usual prime time slots, so to protect the children(???), they elected to pixelate the movies rather than take them off air altogether.

    1. I've never seen porn on TV outside of the adult channels you get at hotels or love hotels.

      Is Japanese porn a multi-million dollar industry? I mean actual movies, not magazines etc? When I say it's bad, I'm not talking content but the actual production values. You could make home porn with a cheap video camera and I swear it'd look more professional.

  8. Anonymous6:56 pm

    I think I saw you on a voyeurism site.


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