In the latest of our reports on how the coronavirus is affecting the adult industry in Japan, we highlight love hotels, the temporary accommodation that exist for couples to have sex.
Love hotels are enjoying a supposed boom due to the pandemic and semi-lockdown measures imposed by the government.
An article we saw recently claims that the “pandemic sees thriving demand at suburban love hotels.”
The basis for the claim is largely a single Japanese-language media article, itself based on a single interview via Twitter with an employee at a love hotel in Kanagawa, the prefecture immediately to the west of Tokyo. As such, the accuracy of the analysis and claim is dubious, but the logic nonetheless seems to hold up.
Apparently, more young people are traveling to the hotel from other areas for sex.
“Our staff has noted that they’re seeing more cars from customers with license plates from outside the prefecture, particularly Tokyo residents who have been sneaking out. While under pressure from the metropolitan government to engage in ‘self-restraint’ and stay home, they’ve been quietly converging on hotels in certain locales.”
Some love hotels have closed temporarily to abide by government exhortations to isolate ourselves during April and May. Those in Tokyo, in particular, felt obliged to follow the government request to close.
Hotels and other forms of accommodation are technically essential services and can legally remain open. And it seems that the ones that are still open, are busy.
“Even before the coronavirus outbreak we were often filled to capacity for overnight guests,” the hotel staff member said. “So when the restrictions came into effect, we expected demand would taper off, but that wasn’t the case. Things have barely changed, and most nights we have no vacancies.”
Using the, er, reliable source that is a Twitter hashtag, the article says that business seems up at various hotels.
So is this crisis making us all more horny? The reason for a boom, if there truly is one, is perhaps more prosaic.
People who usually go somewhere during the Golden Week holidays were stuck in Tokyo. For young couples, this means they might well want to spend some time in “sex quarantine” for a few hours in the afternoon or evening, though it also meant possibly traveling to Kanagawa by car to find a hotel that is open.
And given that most other date options like department stores, movie theaters, and so on are currently closed, a session in a love hotel, where there is WiFi, food and drink, karaoke, a well-stocked bath, and more, is actually as sensible as it is sexy.
Given how hostess clubs and the sex industry have been demonized in Japan for spreading COVID-19, should this mini surge in love hotel usage be worrying for hygiene reasons?
Well, yes. Because although rooms are cleaned between patrons, they are not sanitized.
“We’ve been cleaning the rooms just the same as before. That means we arrange the room neatly and replace the sheets on beds and plastic wrapped items like towels used by the customers with clean ones. We also air out the rooms for 10 to 15 minutes after customers vacate them, and give them a perfunctory wipe down. Rather than ‘cleaning’ the room per se, it’s more like just restoring it to the way it was. Assuming customers made physical contact with this place or that, and disinfecting them with alcohol, just isn’t done. We just restore the room’s appearance to what it was before.”