Love hotels are short-stay establishments operated for the purpose of allowing couples a little privacy to get it on and can be found almost anywhere in Japan.
Stereotypical love hotel customers are young couples still living at home or middle-aged businessmen who use them for illicit affairs. However, many love hotels have recently begun to see an increase in elderly customers, a trend which some in the industry consider a “gold mine.”
Love hotels as we know them today began to crop up in the 70s when— and this is no coincidence— Japan’s baby boomers were beginning to come of age.
During this era, love-based marriages exceeded arranged marriages for the first time in the country’s history, and the traditional Japanese family structure, characterized by three generations living under the same roof, began to break down as young married couples sought to establish households of their own. Japan was full of young, independent couples looking for a place where they could have some privacy, and the answer for those who couldn’t yet afford a home of their own was love hotels.
Those very same baby boomers are now entering retirement, and many seem to still consider love hotels as a safe way to get away from the family.
“There are plenty of elderly people now who are very romantically and sexually active. We have money to spend, thanks to our retirement and pension checks, and now that we’re no longer working, we have plenty of time on our hands as well. Many hook up with people they meet while volunteering or at dance class,” says one man in his 60s, who admits to frequenting love hotels with a mistress himself.
It looks like grandma and grandpa aren’t going to bridge club just to play cards…
Editor-in-chief of adult-entertainment magazine, Ore no Tabi, adds that many elderly men prefer to skip the pleasantries and blow their pension checks on prostitution: “In urban areas where there is a large senior community, roughly half of the customers who use love hotels for prostitution are said to be over 60.”
But not all elderly customers are there for adulterous affairs.
An employee at a love hotel in Tokyo says that they have many regulars who, judging from they way they speak, are obviously husband and wife. “It seems they have family at home and are worried about what people would think if it was found out they were still sexually active at their age.”
Whatever their reason for visiting, those in love hotel management hope their new senior patrons will help breathe life back into the industry, which has been suffering from an excess of supply over demand as the number of younger guests have been declining over the past few years.
Some love hotels have even begun to take steps to bring in more senior customers, such as installing hand rails along stairs, offering traditional Japanese meals, and even offering popularShowa era (1926-1989) music and romance movies in customer’s rooms.
While we can’t condone infidelity at any age, there’s something romantic to the idea of creating a space where elderly couples can go to relive a bit of that magic from a bygone era. And then, you know, have raunchy old people sex.