I'm cross-posting this from the Do Not Disturb blog to give it as wide a readership as possible, because it's really fascinating.
This guest post is by Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories contributor Donna George Storey, whose story, "Room Service," closes the book. Look for an upcoming interview with her here about the inspiration for her story, and an excerpt. Thanks, Donna, for such an interesting post!
"Love Hotel Madness"
by Donna George Storey
Once a land of inscrutable mystery, Japan is no longer especially exotic to Westerners with sushi bars, manga, and Nintendo now familiar fixtures in our culture.
But there is one Japanese institution the West has yet to import--one that still retains an aura of glittering allure and forbidden pleasure. I’m talking, of course, about the love hotel, where a couple can rent a scrupulously clean and fancifully decorated room designed primarily for a few hours of steaming hot sex.
In a country where housing is expensive, the walls paper thin, and many adult children live with their parents until they marry, it’s hard to find a time and a place for no-holds-barred, thrash-and-scream erotic encounters. Enter the love hotel, which truly fills an aching need in Japanese culture. Researchers estimate that one half of all sexual encounters in Japan take place in a love hotel.
Curious? But your schedule won’t allow a quick trip to Japan for an amorous encounter in a room decorated with large Hello Kitty dolls in S&M gear? Then come join me for the next best thing: Love Hotel Madness, a timeless game of afternoon delights where everyone’s a winner!
First, of course, you have to pick your game pieces. Will you be the married couple, desperate to get away from grandma and the kids on a Sunday afternoon? Two college students who lodge in dorms where your mates see and hear everything? Or maybe an American businesswoman who forms a very special connection with her Japanese client as in Isabelle Gray’s “So Simple a Place” in Do Not Disturb?
Next you need to find your love hotel. The best hunting ground is near the train tracks, along the highway, or in the entertainment districts of cities. In Tokyo, Shibuya’s “Love Hotel Hill” has perhaps the most concentrated selection of love hotels in the country. Will it be “Hotel Rich Inn”? Or “Hotel Monaco”? How about “New Seeds”? Or “Blue Roses”? Pick a card and proceed.
Once you choose, step through the discreet hanging curtain into the lobby. There is no check-in clerk, merely a wall of computer screens, each advertising a particular room, with price and amenities. The lit-up screens indicate unoccupied rooms, and you can shop for the theme of your choice. For the purposes of Love Hotel Madness, roll the dice and find the room with that number. Tap the button on the screen for “rest” (one to three hours) or “stay” (the all-night option) and follow the blinking lights to the door of your room, which has been unlocked automatically.
Although we’ve all heard about the laugh-out-loud humorous theme rooms involving paper mache igloos or beds fitted out as boxing rings, more common these days is a well-appointed love den that resembles a baroque Western hotel, although creative touches may be included like a cave bath or a black-light ocean mural. One reason for the decline of all-out kitsch is that women now have more say in the particulars of rendezvous locales. In fact, the word “love hotel” is seldom used by the Japanese anymore. They prefer softer, euphemistic names like couples’ hotel, fashion hotel or boutique hotel.
Another blow to the fun was the 1985 change to the Law Regulating Businesses Affecting Public Morals. That sorry moment in legislative history banished mirrors on the ceilings and rotating beds and restricted exuberant architectural expression. Thus the Cinderella castles and Moorish palaces I remember so well from my first stay in Japan became unremarkable, anonymous facades, and many owners reregistered their establishments as “business hotels” to avoid fines.
However, bright spots do remain in the love hotel landscape. If you’re lucky enough to have rolled for the Hotel Adonis in Osaka, you might find yourself in the Hello Kitty S& M room, the bed equipped with manacles and a cute Hello Kitty quilt. Osaka’s Hotel Loire is a classic—here you can rent a train car to act out subway sex fantasies, the Olympic room with Ionic columns and faux marble floors, or the Pirate room, with a bed right on deck and a view of an approaching ship flying the skull-and-crossbones.
One final preparation: a bit of fiddling with the fancy console on the headboard of your bed. Here you can adjust the room temperature or set the mood with music, the soothing sound of waves or a train conductor’s announcements, perfect for sex-in-the-train fantasies.
Now it’s time to move on to the climax of Love Hotel Madness. You are about to embark on the ultimate Japanese experience—a quick trip to the yume no kuni, the Land of Dreams. In a country where context rules everything, from the pronoun you use to describe yourself to the angle of your bow, the love hotel is the one place where sensual indulgence is allowed and, if you’re in a dungeon room, strictly required by your Master’s orders. If you’re looking for inspiration for some taboo-busting hotel sex, Do Not Disturb has plenty of stories to get your imagination wet and slippery. So I’ll leave you for an hour or two to add your own special touch to the game….
Ahem, sorry to intrude, but your time is up and if you don’t want to pay a surcharge, it’s best to check out now. Paying for your pleasure might involve tucking your cash in a container that goes speeding to the clerk through a pneumatic tube. Other hotels ask you pay with a credit card via computer. Some will actually lock you in until payment is received!
In any case you will eventually find yourself back in the real world, blinking at the grim, fully-clothed people bustling about on the street around you. Yes, perhaps it was all just a dream. But what’s this in your hand? A coupon informing you that if you “rest” four times at Hotel New Seeds, your fifth romp between the sheets is free. Plus you’ve already earned one stamp. See, I told you, in Love Hotel Madness, everyone’s a winner.
Donna George Storey has taught English in Japan and Japanese in the US. She’s very honored to be part of the contributors’ register of Do Not Disturb. Her first novel, Amorous Woman, a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan has many sex scenes set in hotels throughout Japan. Read more of her work at her very amorous Web site, www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.