Ruins of Japan’s Sex Industry

Love Hotels, Soaplands, and Hostess Bars (and of course their ruins / haikyo) are somewhat unique to Japan, growing out of a culture with an unusual approach to sexuality and relationships.

Love Hotels cater to young couples with no other place to frolic, offering cheap rates for ‘Rests’ of a few hours. Soaplands are for the single man, interested in being soaped down by a young naked girl in a sleazy version of an onsen bath-house. Hostess Bars are for busy salarymen with no time to forge real relationships, happy to settle for paid-for compliments from attentive young girls working on commission.

Heian Wedding Hall

Akeno Gekijo Strip Club

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The ruined Heian Wedding Hall in Ibaraki prefecture was a far cry from the Akeno Gekijo Strip Club that preceded it. Here was a wholly wholesome building, built for the profession and binding of love’s vows, in ruins. The Akeno Gekijo haikyo is something of an oddity in Japan, as the only actual strip club I’ve seen here. Of course there are similar venues; hostess bars, soaplands, love hotels, but they each cater to a slightly different crowd.

Pearl Love Hotel

Yui Grand Love Hotel

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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 and chandeliers lie fallen and despoiled with the nests of wildlife. The Yui Grand Love Hotel is an abandonment with a more sordid past than usual, if urban legend is to be believed. According to the story, a gang of bosozoku riders kidnapped a schoolgirl into one of its rooms, where they abused and killed her.

Queen Chateau Soapland

Hotel Royal

The Queen Chateau Soapland Haikyo in Mito, 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. The Royal Hotel 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 alto- ‘Need some discreet time alone with your loved one? Come on down!’

Akasaka Love Hotel


The Akasaka Love Hotel Haikyo in Higashi-Yamato, Tokyo, clearly suffered for lack of passing traffic. Inside, its gaudy rooms still sing of forbidden pleasures, the walls plastered with bright helios, lurking cheetahs, and naked Bathshebas.

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