Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
When traveling in Japan you will naturally need accommodation, and therefore seek out some form of hotel. There are, however, hotels that serve a different purpose all together: Love hotels.
Love hotels, though sometimes named differently, are short stay hotels found in many parts of the world, and especially popular in Japan. The primary purpose is to provide couples some privacy for a short period of time to...satisfy their biological urges. It's not necessarily sleazy, however. These places are just like regular hotels and are priced similarly, easily passing the 100$ mark per overnight stay. The idea with love hotels is privacy. They have discrete entrances to conceal the identity of the people who use them. The selection of rooms, settlement of bills is all done by selection from a panel and automatic cash machines - vacant rooms are lit, occupied rooms dimmed. At times clerks from behind a frosted glass attend to the needs of a customer.
Although the cheaper hotels are purely utilitarian, there are higher end types too with rooms decorated in various themes, rotating beds, ceiling mirrors, jacuzzis, and bizarre lighting. They are at times very garish, with the building in the shape of a castle or UFO. The more contemporary love hotels look like ordinary buildings. Besides the neon signs and usage of heart symbols, you can recognize love hotels from their small covered windows, or at times from having no windows at all.
Mostly love hotels are found in areas nearer to railway stations, industrial areas or on highways outside the city. The rest time may vary from one hour to an entire overnight stay that starts after ten at night. There are also rooms offered at a cheaper day time rate. No advance reservation is possible. Note that as soon you leave the room the hotel does not allow you to get back into it. Although these places are sometimes used for prostitution, it's a legitimate accommodation choice for those of you traveling as a couple and are looking for an experience that is, well, unique.
Josh Shulman, Author of All-You-Can Japan www.smartjapantravel.wordpress.com