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Ominous rumblings on the love hotel front

Jitsuwa Knuckles Sept.
Jitsuwa Knuckles Sept.

On July 8-9, Pacifico Yokohama hosted “Leisure Hotel Fair 2008,” an annual trade show at which vendors exhibited plumbing, fixtures, amenities and other accouterments of the nation’s love hotels.

But, reports columnist Kureichi Matsuzawa in Jitsuwa Knuckles (September), the number of participants at this year’s show was considerably fewer than in 2007. In particular, suppliers of so-called “adult goods” (sex toys) showed a drastic decline.

Has interest in the procreative act begun to droop? Not exactly. The problem, according to Matsuzawa, is that love hotels are facing a crackdown from the authorities. Their crime? “False labeling” — a problem normally associated with eels, chicken and other comestibles.

It seems that hotels in Japan must be licensed according to one of two laws. “Love hotels” typically obtain their business permit in accordance with the Law Controlling Public Morals (fuzoku-ho). The other, conventional type of hostelry, operates based on the Hotel Management Law, which controls hotels and inns.

The latter requires those who utilize the accommodations to register upon arrival providing name, address and other data — something the patrons at a love hotel, for obvious reasons, would prefer not to bother with.

Love hotels, moreover, are in short supply as authorities have become increasingly restrictive in issuing new licenses. At present the magazine suggests more than half the hostelries in Japan that appear to be love hotels actually operate under conventional business licenses, and there’s the rub: if they don’t go by the book in checking in visitors, they can be cited for operating an illegal love hotel.

From the start of this year police in Hyogo and Saitama Prefectures have begun insisting on rigid compliance. No doubt soon thereafter, an amazing number of hotel patrons in the Land of Wa began registering under such names as “Mr. X,” that womantic widdle wascal “Yasuo Fukuda” and, for all anyone knows, even Joji W. Busshu.

To ensure that room decor does not convey the wrong message, these hotel operators have also been obliged to remove any items that might suggest the room is to be used for the sort of ribald behavior frequently mentioned in vernacular magazines such as…Jitsuwa Knuckles. Naturally that means vending machines selling pink rotary vibrators and other items in the guest rooms had to go, which explains the sharp drop-off in exhibitors at the Yokohama trade show in July.

If this crackdown on illicit hotels continues, Matsuzawa predicts the country’s amorous couples will be left with no alternative but to seek other settings. These would be likely to include acts of aokan (debauchery under the blue sky), in public parks, on the back seats of cars, on the emergency stairwells of buildings and who knows where else.