Inside Japan's Pleasure Hotels

Trysts. Young lovers. Parents who want to get away. "Love Hotels" offer short stays and some truly off-the-wall rooms. Love Hotels, or "rabuho" (ラブホ) for short, began in Osaka during the late 1960s. Japan's version of the "no-tell motel", they became big business, and even Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi opened one.

At that time, the local Japanese press noted, "The only benefit Yamauchi might have derived from this is that he and his partners don't need to pay for the rooms, and that might in the end constitute a substantial saving."

But as more and more hotels popped up during the 1970s and 1980s, the need to stand out became increasingly important. Many love hotels have rooms that somewhat resemble normal hotel rooms — they might even be larger than your typical Japanese hotel's.

If you are ever in Japan, love hotels are worth checking out, if only because you can sometimes find a larger room at a cheaper price. While generally safe, just don't forget that all sorts of things go on in love hotels: some legal, some not.

Outside, love hotels are gaudy and showy. There's usually nothing subtle about these establishments. Often, they're themed and have foreign-sounding names. But not always.

They're supposed to transport you to another world, even if that world is utterly silly.

Some of them even look like castles.

Or Christmas.

Or New York City.

Or even a U.F.O.

However, there are some truly unusual love hotels offering amenities that even surprise people in Japan.

How about a room with a Japanese bridge in it?

Or a carousel? (Photo: Misty Keasler)

You might love this car. Just don't love this car. And if you get bored, there's a slot machine to pass the time.

Or maybe this kind of car bed is more your speed.

Or perhaps, you don't even like cars. You could be into riding on trains. (Photo: Misty Keasler)

You're on a boat. Sorta.

Rotating beds have been around for donkey's yonks.

But a dome? I wonder what it's for...

Ever since the Famicom days, video game consoles have been available in love hotels. They're fairly common. But, as Kotaku previously posted, DDR machines? That's highly unusual.

Ditto for this classroom. (Photo: Misty Keasler)

Just hope "Under the Sea" isn't piped in through the stereo.

Everything tacky about the 1980s distilled into a single room.

Kinda wish space stations looked like this.

Here's a cosmos-themed room for bashful types.

There are lots of S&M themed rooms, if that's your thing. (Photo: Misty Keasler)

Staying in shape is important, even for Victorians. I guess?

There's nothing sexier than your local pub.

All rooms are equipped with baths — some of them quite large. Here, Disney characters can watch and judge you silently.

For when things get Roman.

Having a BBQ is probably prohibited. Other things are probably OK.

This love hotel has a water slide. And who the hell doesn't love water slides?!

Pictures: SumaCole, Misty Keasler , Hotel Ray Field, Couples, Hotel Mirage, Love Connection,シャンティ, 運動器具, 海底ルーム, KJ, Burger, Wiki, 地球を離れて, Love Connection, LiveDoor, 神々の風景, キラキラ, Cosmos, 東京ベイ船橋ビビットMyNavi, Hotel Hyper, Sumacole


    You know what? I'd love to stay in some of these themed rooms - for completely innocent reason, like trying to sleep in the Beetle, using the slide, admiring that Japanese bridge/steps thing...

      They're usually rented on an hourly basis, at least during the day. Good for a cat-nap. Or not.

      I also stay in love hotels when I miss my train home sometimes because it's far cheap than a taxi home

    Some of these are creepy.. others are weird.. still others are just tacky.. and then there are some really awesome ones..

      The phrase "Different strokes for different folks" seems appropriate here.

        Sounds like a bullet-point in an escort 'handbook'. ;)

        (HANDbook! Geddit? I slay me. Punintended.)

        Last edited 26/07/13 9:33 am

    I've stayed at the castle one, but I never got a chance to stay in the UFO one. Always wished I had...

    Not sure how to feel about the fact that the idea of S&M themed rooms didnt bother me at all but those train and classroom themed ones creeped me right out.

      You're not alone in that. I'm a little disturbed by myself TBH.

        well while it doesn't make me feel any less disturbed by it at least I'm not the only one.

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