In Japan, there is an array of hotel options. There are traditional inns, business hotels and places like Hotel Akaikutsu (above) where people go to screw each other’s brains out. And when they finish, they can play video games.
Love Hotels have their origins in the post World War II years, when prostitution was legalised in Japan due to fears that American forces would run amock.
A (literally) cottage industry sprung up with rooms being rented by the hour for daily “rest”. After the occupation ended and the turbulent 1960s began, love hotels began to dot the urban landscape. What originally were simple rooms for trysts became gaudy playpens. Even Nintendo, which started out as a playing card maker, owned love hotels in Kyoto.
Japanese houses and apartments are traditionally cramped, and even married couples visited love hotels for some private time away from the kids. Around love hotels, prostitution also began to flourish.
By the heady 1970s and 1980s, love hotels were long a staple of city life. To attract guests and remain competitive, love hotels began to open themed rooms, whether that be S&M or Hello Kitty or both, as wells as room service, alcohol, dress-up costumes, adult toys, magic mushrooms (until around 2001 or 2002 when they became illegal), karaoke machines, and yes, video game consoles.
Back when the Wii and the PS3 were first released, select love hotels would proudly promote that they had the latest, cutting-edge game hardware – as well as the old standby, the PS2, a love hotel favourite for years.
The consoles are typically either located in the room or can be ordered via room service, often with a surcharge for games.
Now, a hotel in Kobe called “Swing” is under investigation for renting games like Mario Kart Wii and Resident Evil 5 to guests, a violation of Japanese copyright law. In Japan, renting video games and consoles is generally not permitted. According to the Japanese reports, the hotel in question is a “camouflage love hotel”, meaning that it looks a bit classier than your typical love hotel, but functions in much the same way, renting rooms by the hour. The hotel, however, does say it accepts families and vacationers as well.
Last fall, five individuals rented games at Swing, prompting a crackdown from the cops. The hotel, however, offers consoles for guests’s enjoyment free of charge.
This all falls into the grey area of Japanese law, but Nintendo was able to successfully side-step all this during the 1980s and 1990s when the game company released Famicom and Super Famicom coin-operated consoles. Guests in hotels could feed the “Famicombox” or “Super Famicombox” yen and play various games for anywhere between five and 15 minutes a pop.
Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome – game related and beyond.