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A uniquely Japanese phenomenon

Love hotels are another uniquely Japanese phenomenon and provide a haven where Japanese couples young and old, can escape the confines and flimsy walls of the family home. They come in all shapes and sizes with some of the out of town complexes being a true sight to behold with their flashing neon lights and bright exteriors. Many offer 5 star luxury (extra big beds!) for a relatively cheap price and there is plenty of in-room entertainment on offer with your very own karaoke, wide-screen TV, games console, toys of one description or another, and luxury bathrooms (check-out the jacuzzi with built in TV!).

Discretion is the key; often you do not actually have to see anyone to be able to book in and once you're in your room, that's it. The car parks even provide covers for your car number plate to further protect your anonymity.

Perhaps the most famous area for love hotels is the infamous 'love hotel hill' in Shibuya in Tokyo. On one side of the main through road is a concentration of love hotels like nowhere else in Japan. If you want to experience a night of passion Japanese style or just want to have a look out of curiosity this is the place to come. There are hotels here to suit every taste. The garish neon exteriors and enticing room pictures are two of the things that mark love hotels out from their more sober cousins, business hotels. Other things to look for are rates by the hour and by the night ('rest' and 'stay' respectively) although many business hotels also offer this facility!

If you want to spend a night in a love hotel you should aim to arrive aroud 10pm. There is always a fixed rate from 10pm until 10am the following morning and prices are usually much cheaper than an equivalent standard room in a regular hotel. And of course you get all the fun extras! Standard love hotel procedure is to choose your room by selecting from the lit up pictures on a screen and then follow the directions to the nearest lift. Many hotels offer themed rooms such as jungle, Christmas, or Hollywood to spice up your evening. You can usually order drinks and food to your room with the hotel staff issuing a polite knock on the door before leaving a tray outside your door. However, if you don't read or speak Japanese you may have to forgoe this as room service is usually ordered through the T.V. remote control!

And that is pretty much that. When you wish to leave, just insert payment in the machine by the door, and off you go. Unfortunately we can't book you a room at a love hotel. After all, the anonymous aspect is a crucial part of the raison d'etre for these establishments existing. However, if you want to leave a day free in your schedule to find a love hotel for the night then this is no problem at all. It is sure to be a night of adventure!

Left - Hotel Christmas, Osaka Umeda; Right - Love Hotel Room