In ruins the hidden secrets of sex are laid bare. All our most intimate truths come out in the wash. The den of our fornication will rot and mold will form on the sheets where we grunted out our last passions.
Sex. In life, as in death, it’s a messy business. Here are five ruined dens of sex from around Japan.
‘Love Hotels’ are a lot like roadside motels, designed with the express purpose of facilitating ‘relations’ between Japanese couples who still live at home, and have no access to a bedroom away from their parents. They are often cheap, and come in a variety of wacky ‘flavors’, decorated in garish hues, with flashing lights, hot tubs, and handy vending machines stocking contraceptives and other toys. You can take a ‘REST’ at a love hotel (one hour, cheap rate), or enjoy a full STAY (up to eight hours, more expensive).
The Akasaka Love Hotel Haikyo in Tokyo reminds us of the importance of that old adage: ‘location location location’. Situated at the far end of a strip of Love Hotels on the Lake Tama ring road, it’s clear this place suffered for lack of passing traffic. Now its forecourt and parking lot are bouldered with rotten 80’s styled furniture, burnt-out cars, and avalanches of mounded pillows. Inside, its gaudy rooms still sing of forbidden pleasures, the walls plastered with bright helios, lurking cheetahs, and naked Bathsheba7s, though I doubt any lusty couples have joined in their bawdy chorus for some time.
‘Soaplands’ are descended from Turkish water brothels, places where the hard-working Japanese salaryman can go to get himself soaped down by a young and nimble nymph. After protestations from the Russian Embassy the name was changed to Soapland. The legality of these places is much in question, with a wider range of deeds considered legal than you might expect. Due to this semi-legality, the places are often run by ‘yakuza’- Japanese gangsters, situated in red-light districts.
The Queen Chateau Soapland Haikyo in Ibaraki is at once a grand but squalid folly. A bath-based brothel rising 5 fairy-tale stories into the sky, cornered with towers and capped with bright red tile, it represents an era gone mad with indulgence, audacity, and hopefulness. Now it lies in crippled ruin, its bright colors fading, its halycon days of glamor and glitz surplanted by ghost-like hangings in its dim and dusty bars. Its grand playing-card Queen still stands aloft emblazoned across the front of the building, but her stare is now more that of the toothless Ozymandius than a haughty mademoiselle.
‘Hostess Bars’ are bars where men pay to be flirted with. Attractive women sit by them, pour them drinks, stroke their thighs, pay them compliments, and can make a fortune from big-spenders seeking to impress the girls with the most expensive champagne and caviar.
The Akeno Gekijo haikyo in Ibaraki is something of an oddity in Japan, as one of only a few actual strip clubs. Of course there are similar venues; hostess bars, soaplands, love hotels, but they each cater to a slightly different crowd and provide a slightly different flavor of tawdry service. To find a straight-up strip club complete with central podium, viewing seats, and dancing poles seems a feat beyond expectation. But there it is, on a small back-road in a quiet rural area surrounded by bamboo, half-burnt to the ground and buzzing with mosquitoes.
The Hotel Royal haikyo in Kanagawa is the grand-daddy of all love hotels, streaking 7 empty stories up into the big blue sky, a giant vermillion flag on the banks of Sagamiko Lake calling out to all and sundry in a mega-watt baritone- “Need some discreet time alone with your loved one? Come on down!”
No sense of shame here.
The Pearl Love Hotel Haikyo in Tochigi is a wreck in camouflage, deeply nested underneath a blanket of scraggy brown vines. Rooms lie in embers, grown through with ferns; once-bohemian beds, chaise longues and chandeliers lie scrapped, dropped, and despoiled with the nests of birds, spiders, and the homeless. The grand two-story executive suite still maintains some of its sordid gravitas, its sultry red round-bedded apex room as faux-regal as ever, now overlooking a graveyard of spent passion inveigled by nature’s rapacious tendrils.
Hitchcock could film a murder here.
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