|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Love hotels adapt to women changing spots 2004,10,13
Shukan Post 10/22 By Ryann Connell
Every minute, an average of 951 couples hit a love hotel somewhere in Japan,creating a 4 trillion yen a year industry that accommodates twice the number of annual visitors to Tokyo Disney Resort and easily exceeds the takings of the Japan Racing Association, according to Shukan Post (10/22).
"Love hotels originated with the 'tsurekomi ryokan' (bring-your-own inns) that popped up just after the end of the (Second World) War," love hotel commentator and consultant, Vitamin Miura tells Shukan Post.
"Right at the end of the war, the Home Affairs Ministry ordered local governments to build 'relief' facilities to cater to the Occupation forces. They used the 'machiai okiya' (waiting tearooms) that had been around since before the war and added hotels where American soldiers could bring in their prostitutes. These became known as the 'tsurekomi ryokan' and popped up all over the Ueno area of Tokyo. When prostitution was outlawed in 1957, tsurekomi ryokan began concentrating in commercial areas, growing in number by about four times in about three or four years."
Tsurekomi Ryokan were fairly basic, existing simply to allow couples a place to consummate whatever relationship they had established.
Toilets, coolers and heaters were largely non-existent, while the reputation of the facilities was, to put it mildly, bleak.
Things changed when Japan's economy started to skyrocket in the early '60s.
Tsurekomi Ryokan cleaned up their act to become "business hotels" catering to traveling salarymen, or "love hotels" for couples seeking a ride of a different sort.
Love hotels got their name partly by accident.
"(Osaka's Hotel Love) used to have a flashing advertisement that revolved around over its roof. People saw the ad, thought it was saying 'Love Hotel" and not 'Hotel Love' and the name became common.
It really stuck when love hotels started equipping rooms with ceiling mirrors and revolving beds," Miura tells Shukan Post.
Love hotels have developed along with postwar Japan and, perhaps mimicking society now, have become more in tune with the demands of the female customers who are also making a bigger mark in the wider world.
"More love hotels go out of their way now to cater to women. The flashy decorations and revolving beds that used to embarrass women are now a thing of the past. Now,love hotels are decked out in neutral colors and decorated in styles women like, while they're also equipped with brand name shampoos, conditioners and other amenities directed at women. Let's not forget that the decision to have sex now rests with women instead of men," Miura says.
"Love hotels are now of the mind that if one of their couples splits up, the guy may never come back again, but the woman may go there with other men."
Twenty-first century love hotel rooms are also more lavish than their predecessors.
"Many offer a couple of free drinks in the refrigerator of every room, others provide free dinner or breakfast, while more have cordon bleu chefs ready to prepare free food from an extensive menu," the owner of the Hotel Vie-Bonheur Kobe tells Shukan Post.
"Love hotels aren't exclusively for couples any more. Some people even bring their kids with them, especially when they book out suites,which are hugely popular among middle-aged couples and those celebrating anniversaries."
Love hotel expert Miura agrees.
"In the Kansai area, it's common for the love hotel to try and snare a bigger share of customers by offering free the contents of a fully stocked fridge, while in the Kanto,there's a greater emphasis on mood making, such as fitting rooms with 'black lights' that make anything white shine with a mysterious glow," he says.
Many love hotels have well and truly crossed into the domain of respectability,the only feature distinguishing them from standard accommodation being the double price system which has one charge for an overnight stay and a separate rate for those who only want rooms for a few hours.
In fact, many use the establishments as an alternative to regular stopovers.
"Love hotels must constantly spend money if they want to continue attracting customers, so their survival depends on equipment investments. Some places sell themselves as welcoming even guests staying alone," Yukari Suzuki, a writer who attributes Japan's postwar economic success to the health of the love hotel business, says.
"Love hotels don't need reservations, so many people stay out drinking till late, then go and stay there alone after they've finished. Many salarymen like going there just so they can lie around in the lavish baths."
Love hotels can present problems, however, especially as Tokyo Gov.
Shintaro Ishihara has cracked down on the sex business in the capital, effectively making the establishments the workplaces of the hoteheru, professionals who turn tricks for cash.
Some, however, are grateful the pros choose their inns.
"We've got to constantly keep the place in shape or people will stop coming back," the operator of a love hotel in Maruyamacho, part of Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district, says.
"Frankly speaking, we're glad to make deals with sex businesses to use our rooms just because of the steady income it gives us."
Despite helping to keep the accommodation industry afloat, not everybody is happy with the way the bonking business dominates the love hotel scene in Shibuya.
"If there are more hoteheru, the chances are that crime will also rise," an insider from the Shibuya Hoteliers and Inn Operators Union tells Shukan Post.
"We don't want Maruyamacho to be equated with hoteheru, so we're talking with the cops about what we can do to stop this."
By Ryann Connell Staff Writer
October 13, 2004