Fans looking for accommodation at next year’s Rugby World Cup may find themselves embracing the love at one of Japan’s notorious short-stay hotels.
With less than two years until the nation hosts two major sporting events – including the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics – Japan needs a speedy answer to a serious tourist accommodation shortage.
The answer may be a collection of 37,000 eccentric-looking love hotels or “Kotaku”.
According to the New Zealand Herald, strict censorship guidelines and social pressures have led to the creation of the easily spottable hotels throughout Tokyo, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes but follow a similar gaudy template.
The demand for them stems from a lack of space and privacy within the country’s densely-populated urban hubs.
The easily-spotted buildings provide those living in crowded apartments – often with relatives – an avenue of escape and a modicum of privacy for intimate moments.
They are designed to provide escapism through their extravagant theming, and their loud designs allow them to be easily recognised even if they don’t explicitly advertise.
Since the 1960s, the number of love hotels has exploded and the industry is worth ¥4 trillion, with venues welcoming some 500 million couples a year.
However, as Japan scrambles to meet demand for tourist-friendly accommodation, the love hotels may become mainstream accommodation for international visitors looking to stay for more than an hour in the afternoon.
“The occupancy rate of over 10,000 such hotels across the country is around 40 percent on weekdays, making them a potentially useful resource to meet growing lodging demands,” said the Japanese Times.
The public lending body Finance Corp has been told to provide more loans to companies looking to convert love hotels into fan accommodation ahead of 2019.
But it seems tourists are quite happy to check into the hotels as they are. In the past year, Booking.com has seen the number of bookings in the ‘love hotel’ category rise by 48 per cent.
“What is interesting about the love hotel sector is that they have very interesting facilities, for example karaoke rooms – which is pretty cool for many foreigners – some will also have bars,” Donna Morris, Booking.com’s Tokyo area manager told the New Zealand Herald.
Perhaps they are a perfect accommodation option for fans of the odd-shaped ball after all.