(UPDATED final paragraph for accuracy)
“Chris Cooper and Makiko Kitamura” of Bloomberg deliver this suspiciously well-researched report on Japanese love hotels. This comes hot on the heels of a recent Bloomberg article on the pachinko industry, and if you don’t mind me saying so it’s some of the best reporting on Japanese society I’ve seen in a while. I guess it takes a no-BS investor’s perspective to get the proper balance on these topics – none of the all-too-common falling back on superficial cliches, insensitive moralizing, and sensationalism that exaggerates the phenomenon or makes it seem uniquely strange.
Anyway, here are the relevant takeaways:
- There are 25,000 love hotels in Japan. (more than double the number of normal hotels counted in govt stats! (PDF from source provided in the report)
- Stays range from 3,000 yen for several hours at low-end places to 50,000 yen a night for a “romance package” at the Westin (that hotel’s attempt to cash in on demand from the love hotel sector).
- A London-based company called Japan Leisure operates love hotels in Japan and is traded on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s deregulated market for startup companies. Other foreign investors are apparently also involved in the love hotel industry.
- Love hotels are popular for their anonymity and convenience, as Japanese urban-dwellers (60% of the population) have trouble bringing dates home to often tiny apartments. The hotels also often offer a luxurious experience and amenities that would be inconvenient to keep at home. (” As well as the intimation of a Leonardo-Kate liaison, Japan’s love hotels lure customers with lower rates, jacuzzis and even maid-costume rentals.”)
Earlier this year, a mini-scandal erupted as police cracked down on hotels that registered as business hotels or ryokan (traditional Japanese lodges) but in fact operated as love hotels with hourly rates and all the rest. They had to do this in order to operate in zones within 200 meters of schools or libraries, where the construction of love hotels is banned under the law regulating fuzoku (adult entertainment and other restricted entertainment such as video arcades, mahjong parlors, and dance clubs) and local ordinances.