Nikkan Gendai (Apr. 20) is 17 installments along in a series that professes to track the looming “economic depression” caused by the March 11 catastrophe in Tohoku. This time, it takes a look at the love hotel business.
“Things have hit rock bottom,” the operator of one such business whines to the tabloid. Salarymen, it seems, are just not in the mood to tipple and then, while in their cups, spend their hard-earned cash on nookie.
While the year was already starting to show signs of slumping demand from early January, customers started making a comeback in late February, and March was looking up until Friday the 11th. Then demand soared.
“Every love hotel in the city was booked solid, with people who couldn’t get home because the trains had stopped running,” said the aforementioned proprietor. “A lot of the customers, not wanting to be alone, picked up girls from the bars and spent the night with them.
“But by the third day following the quake, business tapered off. The aftershocks were unnerving, and daunted by the devastation up north, more people were swept up in the spirit of self-restraint.
“We’ve seen a very slight upturn from the end of March, but business is only about 50 percent of what it should be. Places doing really well might be up to 70 percent.”
Occupancy time has also declined.
“Before, couples would come during the early hours and take advantage of the discount to stay three whole hours,” the source says. “Now, they’re in and out in about an hour.” Apparently one pop is all a guy gets, and then it’s time to hit the road.
Another new development is that nervous customers habitually request rooms on the 2nd or 3rd floors, which are easier to evacuate in the case of a major quake, so rooms on the 4th floor and above tend to go vacant. To encourage more people to love dangerously, so to speak, a hotel in Tokyo’s Shibuya district that is utilized by deri-heru establishments (out-call sex services) offers its upper-story rooms for a bargain-basement 1,300 yen per 75 minutes.
“Due to gasoline shortages, hotels in rural areas, such as Ibaraki, have been hit particularly hard,” says a writer covering the pink trade. “And let’s face it —nobody feels like getting laid when they’re downwind from a nuclear reactor meltdown.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, since many of the part-time Chinese and Korean workers employed to clean the rooms have fled in panic to their home countries, hotel owners have also been obliged to do the housekeeping chores themselves. (K.S.)
Source: “Sarariman ga sukebegokoro wo ushinai, uriage hangen,” Nikkan Gendai (Apr. 20, page 11)