Monday, 6 May 2013

Love Hotels: From Bridal to Jurassic




You can't tell, but the wheel of the Jeep is spinning...
Our first experience with a love hotel came about as a result of a poorly planned trip during peak season. After an excruciatingly long time on public transport and very little sleep in the proceeding few days we found ourselves wandering through the outer fringes of Nagoya desperately looking for a neon sign advertising “Crayon Coloured Dreams” or “Coconut Palms” or some other similarly love-hotel-esque name (this was before I got a smart phone). We eventually found a dank looking place beside the train line that was probably supposed to look like a fantasy style castle or European chalet. Expecting something vaguely medieval themed we ventured inside. The reception was fully automated, with a selection panel with pictures of rooms to choose from. Instead of medieval the theme seemed to be bridal. Mannequins wearing white wedding dresses filled the lobby and hallways, entombed in glass cases. Their hands were primly folded in lace gloves but, perhaps in order to prevent any idea of “accusing eyes” for those visiting the hotel with someone other than their spouse, all the mannequins were headless. In the dimly lit and hushed space without really knowing what we were supposed to do or how anything worked, the atmosphere was intensely creepy. We pressed one of the pictures on the panel and a series of green lights lit up down a corridor. We followed, pretending to be characters from Ender’s Game, and came to our designated room. The room itself had no mannequins, thankfully. 
Image from this blog, attributed without links or details to AFP/Getty Images/Daylife/Diez Minutos/Daily Mail/Reuters
The trouble was, we had just selected a room, not said how much time we wanted. We weren’t sure what to do. After a shower we thought we might go down to the lobby and try the interphone, but when we tried to leave our room the door was locked from the outside. Then we freaked out. Was it locked because our time was up and we were supposed to be out? Would someone else come it, push the same button and unlock the door, walking in on us in the night? We spent a less than restful night jumping out of our skins at every loud noise. Being so close to the train tracks there were plenty of loud noises, of course, so we didn’t get much sleep. We found out later that the doors always lock until you indicate your intention to leave. I assume they have a failsafe for emergencies, but it was scary (especially with the headless brides outside). We couldn’t figure out how to pay using the automated system the next morning, and eventually got a rather flustered and grumpy man to accept cash through a small barred window in the lobby. After all the stories we had heard about Japan’s wacky, amazing love hotels with their waterslides and Hello Kitty décor it was a big let-down. We had no plans to repeat the rather traumatising experience. 

It’s my mother’s fault we ended up going to the bondage hotel. Really. Almost a year after the horrible Nagoya experience, we visited Kyoto with my parents during Obon. We rented a very nice and affordable little apartment/room, with space for the four of us to sleep Japanese style on the tatami. Having not shared a room with my parents for quite some time, I had not realised how big a problem this was going to be. My mother, through no fault of her own, has the most incredible snore. It isn’t just that it is loud; it is also irregular. Sometimes she won’t make a sound for four or five minutes, then suddenly a snore so deep it rattles the windows explodes out. It’s extraordinary. After a couple of hours I whispered to my husband “want to get out of here?” and we snuck outside. The thing that makes a Japanese summer so unbearable is the humidity, and unfortunately that doesn’t diminish at night. We thought we might try an internet café or a love hotel, but we were in what seemed to be a business district with nothing of the sort to be found. We thought we would try a park bench, but they were all occupied (we hadn’t seen many homeless people by day, but you seea very different scene at night). We spent as long as we could in the blessed air-conditioning of convenience stores, and eventually went back to the room around 5 am. My parents told us to get some sleep and went out for breakfast on their own, so we got an hour or two in, but the sleeping arraignments clearly weren’t going to work. We asked at a couple of hotels but everywhere was full up. It was the day of the okuribi festival, and town was packed. There was nothing. It had to be a love hotel. After the festival finished I called a friend who went to university in Kyoto and asked her what neighbourhood to head to. We made some mistakes with buses and directions and didn’t end up finding a hotel until close to 1 am. 
 
Sleep-deprived husband failing to appreciate Kyoto
What a difference from the anonymous, seedy, creepy place in Nagoya! This love hotel was tucked behind a temple. An old lady in a pink headscarf was mopping the lobby floor, chatting and laughing with a couple in their fifties who were choosing a room from the display. The three of them turned to us with a cheery “Ha-ro!” when we entered. Feeling almost as freaked out by the neighbourhood association atmosphere as we had been by the headless brides, we hastened to select a room. The prices were steep. We didn’t even look at the pictures; we just chose the only one we had enough money for. We understood why it was so expensive when we got to the room (suite). It was huge, with gorgeous décor reminiscent of Sakuran. We were feeling pretty good under we headed into the bedroom section and noticed the flogging frame… and the wrist and ankle cuffs on the bed. Thanks Mum! 

Since then we’ve become a bit more confident about using love hotels as a convenient and cheap holiday accommodation option. It’s still a little nerve wracking paying, because every single one we have been to has had a different system. My personal favourite was this pneumatic tube.

Anyway, having become reasonably proficient in the ways of the RabuHo, we felt we were ready for Jurassic Park.

No copyright infringement, see? It's Jzauuruss, and that's a crocodile not a t-rex. Totally unrelated to any movie.
It was supposed to be a birthday treat, and the website promised a bottle of wine and ice-cream as complementary birthday gifts. In preparation we watched Jurassic Park the night before (I’d never seen it). Feeling inspired by the film, I even pulled together a Laura Dern inspired outfit for our trip. The first question was, cage room or mummy room? 
Image from http://www.skyclub.co.jp/jzauruss/index.html
Closely followed by, why is there a mummy room?!
Image from http://www.skyclub.co.jp/jzauruss/index.html
We settled on cage room (since the velociraptors were obviously the best thing about the movie) and headed out to Beppu. The exterior was promising. Maybe even amazing.



When we neared the doors lights began flashing. The door opened with that sci-fi hIIISSSssss. 

The lobby was dark except for a red hazard light. We were in a narrow space between caging, with a crashed jeep and foliage visible through the wire. There were ominous rustling noises and I was afraid something was going to jump out, haunted-house style.

Image from http://www.skyclub.co.jp/jzauruss/index.html
I’m very very bad with haunted houses. We edged over to the selection panel and… there was a sign taped to it stating that special prices were in place for golden week. Special, 3x the usual price prices. We couldn’t afford it. So we had to turn around and head home again. Damn having a birthday in the middle of consecutive public holidays!

But we’ll be back Jurassic Park. We’ll be back. Probably at night, when you look even cooler.
Image from http://www.skyclub.co.jp/jzauruss/index.html

If you are interested in reading more about love hotels, there are some books available on the topic. I haven't read either of these so I am not personally endorsing them, but they look interesting. 

These are Amazon affiliate links. That means if you click them then buy the book I get a small commission. It does not mean that I am being paid to promote a particular product or opinion. I will only include affiliate links that are directly related to the subject of a post. If you want to know why I have begun including affiliate links you can read about it here.
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14 comments:

  1. I have been wanting to try a love hotel but I am also super nervous about paying. Hopefully the one I eventually choose has an easy to use system. 0.o

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If all else fails, there is always someone there! You just have to get them to come out from their lair to take your money...

      If you get a themed one please do share (non-intimate) pictures!

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  2. I'm nominating you for the Liebster award. It's an award for up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers (which I don't even know if that's true for you) and I think you should win. Because you're liebster. http://pagesonadoption.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/liebster/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are? I am? Thank you!!! XD

      Delete
  3. Quickbooker provides hotel reservations of Nagoya Hotels Japan at all inclusive rates and also gets hot hotel deal for Tokyo Japan Hotels, Cheap Hotels in Japan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But do your hotels include velociraptors?

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  4. Hey! I wonder what the name of that bondage themed love hotel is, and where it's located?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Erik, I can't tell you where that exact hotel was located sorry. I was severely sleep-deprived and following a friend's directions via text message. However, you can search for hotels using this site http://couples.jp/hotel/find_hotel_area.php

      I did a quick google search for bondage themed hotels and got two in the Tokyo area~ if you search around a bit online I'm sure you'll be able to find more :)

      These links are NSFW
      http://www.hard-love.me/rochelle/rooms/
      http://www.hard-love.me/aiai/rooms/

      Delete
  5. Very nice Hotel in Japan, Very like it

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  6. Whoa! Those experiences you had are so bizarre! It’s kinda cool to imagine myself visiting those peculiar-themed hotels. Haha! Anyway, it’s already expected since you’re in Japan. They’re known for their creativity and the vast innovation they develop.

    Marci @twinpine.com

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  7. It's a great deal simpler with a Japanese partner...

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  8. I loved reading this!

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  9. HAHA definitely the best area to stay in Tokyo for me now >_<

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