New: Love Hotel Listings in English

September 17, 2008

Readers in Japan will know that a “love hotel” is a place that couples can visit for some discreet nookie, and pay for the room by the hour. The rooms come equipped with fun things like jacuzzis, karaoke machines, playstations, as well as all manner of weird sexual paraphenalia that you might want to make use of.
The hotels are easy to spot- they’re painted in garish colours, with flashing lights, and enormous, grinning, cartoon-character statues. It’s a wonder that people get planning permission for these jaw-dropping eyesores. They look like something out of Walt Disney’s wet dream!

In Japan, people are often inexplicably content to live with their parents until they’re about fifty, so they need a place to go if they want to get down to some hanky panky without Mum strolling in with a cup of tea. Love hotels cater for these folk. They are also havens for married men and women having illicit affairs- some rooms even have tape recorders with noises from bowling alleys that you can play in the background when you phone your spouse, so you can pretend that you’re having an innocent, after-work party at the bowling alley with your colleagues.

For such sleazy, uninhibited places, love hotels have some pretty archaic rules. Apparently, while cheating on your wife/husband is perfectly fine, being gay isn’t- same sex couples are not usually allowed in. You can’t get in on your own either, in case you decide to kill yourself. (Personally, I’d hope most people would choose a more poignant and poetic location to top themselves than a room full of dildos and Mickey Mouse wallpaper.)
Still, strange things can happen in a love hotel. I once read a story in the newspaper about a couple who found the week-old dead body of a prostitute under the mattress they had just been frolicking on. If anything’s guaranteed to kill a romantic mood, it’s discovering a rotting corpse!

Now, some considerate person has made a website in English, called Japan Love Hotels, which features a big directory of love hotels throughout Japan for the discerning customer. They even have maps in both Japanese and English. You can choose from a variety of weird, themed love hotels, with all kinds of bizarre novelty rooms (although, most people, when someone has spontaneously agreed to go to bed with them, are not going to waste time quibbling about wallpaper.)

The hotels have some unusual names, too. Here are a few listed on the site: “Hotel Mickey Cookies”, “Adventure Hotel Chapel Coconuts”, “Hotel Vanilla Resort”, “Hotel Movie Movie”, “Hotel Dolphin Resort”, “Amusement Hotel I’m”, “Hotel Tropicana “The Oh””, and the utterly insane “Hotel Magical Little Pumpkin” (pictured below.)

A personal favourite of mine is the demented chain of Christmas-themed love hotels, “Hotel Chapel Christmas”, where Christmas becomes Triple-X-mas. The owners have missed the message of Christmas by several thousand light years- at these places, it’s Christmas all year round, and you can get your rocks off surrounded by lit-up trees and leering Santa Claus statues.
Santa won’t be bringing any presents to the naughty boys and girls who get freaky in the “Hotel Chapel Christmas.” Ho ho ho! (that’s “ho” in the hip-hop sense of the word.)

Check out Japan Love Hotels here.

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Jelly Balls

May 20, 2008

“Jelly Balls”? I suggest you see a doctor immediately!


Penis Party 2008

March 19, 2008

The first Sunday in April is almost here, which means it’s almost time for Kawasaki’s notorious Kanamara fertility festival, at which an enormous pink penis is paraded around town by transvestites, vegetables are carved into phallic shapes, and crowds nibble on pink schlong-shaped lollipops. Before you sigh “those crazy Japanese people,” I should point out that these days the voyeuristic, giggling Western tourists outnumber the locals.
Festivities take place on Sunday April 6th, at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Kawasaki from around 10AM to 4PM. To get there, take the Daishi Line to Kawasaki Daishi station. Go out of the exit and you’ll see Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine across the street, to the right.
Tel: (044) 222-3206
You can read a story I wrote about it last year, with accompanying photos, here– which is by far the most popular blog entry I’ve ever written (it’s been seen by about 100,000 people). Below are some new pictures that I didn’t post last year.


Weird Watering Holes of Yokohama

October 15, 2007

Yokohama is Japan’s second biggest city, but it’s only 30 minutes from Tokyo by train, so most people hit the capital when they want to get utterly mashed and party on down. Yokohama does have a few of its own cool and unique bars and restaurants, though. Below are a list, in no special order, of my own personal favourite freaky hang-outs in Yokohama.

1: BAR LUTHER

First off, a Luther-Vandross-themed nightclub. How’s that for starters? Bar Luther is the best place near Yokohama station to dance like a sex-machine. The DJ spins classic 80s soul tunes courtesy of Prince, Hot Chocolate, and Vandross. There are even floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a disco ball. And all without a trace of irony. Groovy!
Read more about it here.

Info:
Tel: 0453148993
Bar Luther Homepage

2. CHARACTERS BAR

Looking more like a vintage toy emporium than a drinking hole, Characters, a self-styled “cafe/bar/fleamarket” offers the unique opportunity to drink while browsing for used toys.
Be careful if you get sloshed, or you might become overwhelmed by nostalgia and fork out a fortune for a Gremlins lunchbox or a Flintstones frisbee.
Read more about it here.

Info:
Characters Bar
Kikuya Bldg 1F
1-19 Ishikawa-cho, Naka-Ku,
Yokohama Shi 231-0826
Tel: (045) 6503080

3. THE AMAZON CLUB

The mysterious “Amazon Club” is an oddball eaterie which attempts to replicate the spirit of the secretive hideouts that US soldiers frequented in the fifties. It’s a dimly lit, cavernous place full of unusual and exotic decorative objects, like statues of Betty Boop and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and pickled snakes in laboratory jars.
Find out more here.

Info:
The Amazon Club
B1 Yokohama Bldg, 3-9 Kaigandori,
Naka-Ku, Yokohama-Shi 231-0002
Tel: 045 664 6101
Website: The Amazon Club

4: HONEY HONEY

Maid cafes aren’t only found in Akihabara, you know. Yokohama has it’s very own maid cafe, “Honey Honey,” a haven for geeks, where TV screens show cartoons, and nubile young ladies in French maid costumes draw pictures on your omelets with squeezy ketchup bottles. Don’t worry, they also sell beer.
You can read more about it here.

Here’s the “Honey Honey” homepage.

5: HALLOWEEN

You can go to this Halloween-themed cafe/bar all year round and act and dress like a weirdo without fear of reprimand. The music is classic Halloween tunes like Transylvania 6-5000 and Monster Mash, and the décor is all pumpkins and ghosts as you’d expect. Disappointingly there are none of the novelty cocktails (like “Dr Jeckyl’s Potion” or “Vampire’s Blood”) I’ve come to expect from these places, but the bar is still worth a visit for the novelty value, and presumably it’s good fun on October 31st.
Read a review here.

Tel: (045) 314-7856.

6: 3 BOZU CAFE

If a cave-based shrine to Frankenstein is your kind of place, you’ll like “3 Bozu Paradise”, a Frankenstein-themed joint hidden in the shadows down a dark side-street near Yokohama station. It’s an eerie eaterie that should please anyone who prefers Hellraiser to Hello-Kitty.
Kick back and have fun, under the leering gaze of a green reanimated corpse statue.
You can learn more here.

Info:
3 Bozu Paradise

Taiyou Building 1F, Minami Saiwai 2-20-12, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama City.
Open from 5pm to 4am
Tel: (04) 5320 3066