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*LOWER YOUR VOLUME* [Mr. Shishido moaning]
[falls in pleasure]
- Okay? - Perfect.
If you need the toilet quickly, you need not run around the room,
just go through the hole.
There's a reason there's an estimated 37,000 love hotels across Japan,
worth around 40 billion dollars to the nation's economy.
I mean, it can be difficult to enjoy such luxuries as privacy and intimacy
when you live in a multi-generational household with walls made of paper.
Now you could go and blow your pocket money by running off to a standard business hotel.
Or for just 20 bucks, you can stay for two hours in what is
essentially a miniature soundproofed theme park.
I've covered love hotels a few times over the years now,
and I'm always fascinated by the wacky and absurd room designs used to entice couples,
but recently through a charismatic friend who owns a chain of love hotels in Sendai,
I was given the opportunity to see behind the scenes for the first time ever
with an all-access pass to a brand-new love hotel.
In this video we'll explore three different themed hotel rooms,
discover what tactics love hotels employ to keep customers staying for as long as possible
and have a look behind the curtain to see the management systems put in place
to make it all run smoothly.
Simply put by the end of this video, you'll be an expert on all things love hotel.
And like me you'll probably wish we had a similar alternative outside of Japan.
Before we go though, I've recently noticed
YouTube has been doing a pretty poor job promoting Abroad In Japan videos,
particularly to subscribers.
And I suspect it's got something to do with the swearing,
and the lack of fluffy gumdrop rainbow bunny rabbits needed to satisfy YouTube's algorithm.
If you are subscribed to the channel, be sure to hit a notification bell
to the right of the subscribe button.
And it means you'll actually get notified, when the new video is released.
You'll be very much at the front of the queue,
and not at the mercy of a spectacularly flawed algorithm.
Thanks guys.
Right then, let's get going.
(cheerful music)
So the first thing you usually see when you walk into any love hotel
is a big screen with options.
When I select options, the types of room and the length of your stay,
that's what comes up here.
We have four different types of room depending on the size
and then beneath that you can see the price.
You can see here the short-term price, the short stay price.
¥2,900 for one to two hours of stay
or you can stay the whole night for ¥6,500.
Either way,
it's a lot cheaper than the usual business hotel.
Once you've got your ticket, and you've chosen your room
and your length for your stay, come over to the desk
to get the key.
(speaking Japanese)
Notice how you can't see the staff at love hotel.
The key in love hotel is anonymity.
You don't need the staff, they don't need you.
That's probably a good thing
So, this is our first of three rooms, room 221.
I have no idea what's behind this door, but, well here we go.
(mysterious music)
This is a bit confusing.
Which way is the...
I will go this way.
Oh my God.
Looks like it's gonna take us a while to, um..
find the bed.
Maybe this is it here.
There's a...
some sort of floor padding.
I reckon this is it.
Although the corridor, the maze-like corridor,
seems to continues.
Let's go and pursue things a little bit further.
Oh look,
there it is.
I found the bedroom.
It's through this...
through this hole.
You imagine like coming back here a little bit drunk,
trying to find your way to the bed and then just being kind of like,
"Which one is it?".
(comedy music)
One day we'll find the bed,
but not before...
another one of these mats.
Apparently the owner, Shishido-san, who's a rather kinky rascal,
he likes to put these everywhere because, in his own words:
"You never know where you gonna end up in a love hotel room".
So, um,
We haven't even made it to the bed, and it already, we've had
some possibilities here - for other places to sleep.
Anyway, let's carry on and hopefully one day we'll find the bed.
And speaking of the bed, here we are.
That's quite cozy, isn't it?
Look, there's the hole.
- In and..
one cushion, two cushion, three cushion...
one sex,
two sex,
oh, very tired, and well...
If you need the toilet quickly, you need not run around the room,
just go through the hole.
And again I'm not gonna try it because I'm definitely gonna get stuck.
(light music)
One down two to go.
This is room 226, known as the
Sandbag room.
She sounds like a wall concert.
But anyway, here we go.
This is quite the...
Looks like a jungle gym, and the first thing I've noticed is this punch bag.
(sandbag rattling)
So the last room with three cushions,
this room: the whole floor is just one big cushion.
So last time we had three possibilities.
This time,
unlimited, practically unlimited.
- Um, bang bang.
- Right.
- Bang bang, and naked.
- Okay.
- Bang, bang, bang. - So naked, then hit it with a bang?
- (grunts).
Okay? - Perfect.
(light symphony music)
Two down one to go.
Room 336, don't know what to expect again.
Here we go.
This is colourful.
I think this is the most practical room so far.
It's not a maze that you get lost in,
it's not a room where you can beat the crap out of a punch bag.
- Okay Shishido-san, (speaks Japanese)
- Food, order. - Yep.
- And..
- Sit here, then you'll have your food.
And then you die. - Okay?
- Yep.
So the idea is you sit here, have a bit of dinner,
and then you just roll onto the bed.
That's er, that's what you do in this room.
- Good design. - It's a good design.
Yeah, very unique
Interestingly according to Shishido-san, the most popular of the three rooms
is actually the latest room.
For the simple reason people coming to the hotel on a first date
don't want to scare off their partner with a weird or surprising room.
After al,l taking your date to a room with a punch bag
probably doesn't give off the best first impression.
As we saw earlier on at the entrance, it costs just ¥2,900 for 2 hours of room time.
However, every hour for an extra ¥1,000, you can extend your stay indefinitely
And once you find all the amenities or offer, you can certainly see why the average
amount of time spent in one of the rooms is four to six hours.
I think most people have see the image of love hotels,
just because of what the whole thing insinuates.
But really the name of the game is convenience.
They want you to stay here for as long as possible.
They want you to enjoy the atmosphere, eat the food,
buy the stuff,
and we've got big grand menu here, filled with items.
Pizzas, pastas, steaks, beer, everything you could ever want.
And also each TV comes equipped with a menu where you can order it all.
Nice and easy.
From here...
Oh, we can you can buy things as well.
They want you to buy things.
What kind of things can we buy?
What's that?
You can even buy lingerie.
This one, Uniqlo, is actually sold out,
as it's so damn popular.
¥1,500, it's pretty cheap.
Stockings, you can even get stockings.
If you want to reenact the the famous Lost In Translation scene,
rip my, ripped my stockings, that's what...
That is the full...
(cheery music)
By this point you might be wondering, why doesn't everyone just stay in a love hotel.
Well usually rooms at a love hotel can't be booked in advance.
And obviously there's no concierge to help you with your luggage,
and when you do order food to your room, it's not wheeled in elegantly on a trolley,
but instead passed through a hole in the wall in order to maintain precious anonymity.
This level of discretion is even extended to the car park
where if you come by car, a handy license plate cover is on hand
to help give drivers peace of mind.
As a result, the moment you arrive at a love hotel,
the whole experience feels almost like a glitch in the matrix.
Locked away in your bunker eating copious amounts of food,
watching TV in the bath and deciding which cushion to relax on,
while the invisible workers run the show like clockwork behind the scenes.
Having watched Shishido-san collapse and roll onto various beds,
I was taken behind the curtain to get a glimpse of the hotel's management system.
So the key to running a love hotel is having good, um,
good management system.
You can see here these screens showing which rooms are vacant,
which rooms are being used.
The ones in yellow,
These people had just come into like an hour or two,
for a bit of relaxation, and um,
the ones in red they've actually stayed overnight.
This one here in green is being cleaned currently.
You can even see if there are a member of the hotel.
They've got this little heart symbol.
So from here, the entire hotel is effectively managed
without the issue of being utter utter nightmare.
(crescendo music)
So this is the kitchen where they prepare all the room service orders.
Most love hotels have kind of a menu they've made in-house,
but this love hotel have actually got a menu that's been designed and created
by an Italian restaurant.
They've gone a little bit step further, although to be honest
the last door that we saw was just fried chicken and chips,
which to be fair is exactly what I would order if I was staying in a love hotel.
That's all you need, isn't it?
Fried chicken and chips.
(machine beeping)
Another order that.
Lots of orders, lots of lots of chicken and chips.
(light music)
Having wandered through the back office, I turned my attention to the man himself.
About a decade ago, Shishido-san's mum bought a love hotel as an investment.
And after struggling to manage it, handed over day-to-day operations to her son.
And it's been his life ever since.
Over a light lunch, I have a very very light lunch indeed,
I sat down with Shishido-san to discuss some of the ups and downs of owning a love hotel.
So three years ago, we made our first love hotel video together.
Naturally a lot of the comments were about,
Cleaning - is the hotel clean and things like that.
What do you guys do compared to a normal hotel
to keep a love hotel clean above and beyond?
In Japanese culture, there's still definitely a stigma attached
to running a love hotel due to its image of being associated with the sex industry.
To be able to turn that into your life requires the ability to stand firm,
believe what you're doing is making a positive impact.
Despite Shishido-san's obvious enthusiasm for his work,
I was surprised to find he was reluctant to recommend others
to follow his career path.
- Three?
- One,
- Well is there's no beating around the bush I guess.
It is what it is.
(speaking Japanese)
Thank you very much Shishido-san. - Thank you.
So there you have it, behind the scenes in a Japanese love hotel,
but which room would you've stayed?
I mentioned earlier that typically love hotels can't be booked ahead,
but this one actually can.
For an additional fee, you can snap up a room in advance at the hotel.
It's still cheaper than a business hotel and a whole lot more fun.
If you're visiting Sendai and want to experience a love hotel firsthand,
you can find the link to the Hotelion, in the description box below.
Just a few minutes from Sendai station my taxi or Uber
as Sendai is one of the few places Uber works in Japan.
Again, all the details can be found in the description box below.
Well, that was a lot of fun.
I've filmed in love hotel before, but I've never actually got to see
behind the scenes, how it works, how it operates.
So that was really really quite interesting.
And thank you guys.
That's all for now.
Thanks for watching as always.
And thank you to my cameraman for making this all possible.
It's almost as if the cameraman is Ryotarou.
But he's too afraid to publicly be on camera at a love hotel.
Guess will never know who it is.
It's definitely Ryotarou, is there.
See you next time.
Have a good one.
(music fades)