Japan’s love hotels, as the name implies, are all about the loving. Not only do these short-stay accommodations provide a welcome oasis of privacy for couples that want to express their physical affection for one another, they often have elaborately decorated themed rooms to help them get in the mood.
But while most visitors to a love hotel aim to spend as little time as possible with their clothes on, one group has found a way to enjoy them while staying completely dressed: cosplay fans who’ve discovered one love hotel that makes a great photo shoot location.
No matter how perfect your cosplay outfit may be, your own costume can really only do half the job of bringing your favorite anime to life. That’s because those fictional worlds are made up of environments as well as characters, and unless you’ve got a very unique living room, odds are you’re going to have to go to a photo studio with plenty of props for the full effect.
Time in a photo studio can be expensive, though, and if you live anywhere outside the major hotspots of the otaku subculture, finding one with the decorations you need can prove incredibly difficult. Cosplayers in Niigata City, though, have found a viable substitute in the form of the Keibajo Us love hotel.
From the outside, the seven-story hotel, located next to a horse track, might look pretty plain. Some of its older guestrooms are also pretty conservatively appointed.
Three years ago, though, the hotel underwent a partial renovation and decided to get a little more creative with some of its rooms, like Room 201.
Produced in cooperation with adult video producer and distributor Soft on Demand, this room was no doubt designed so that hotel guests could live out their naughty teacher/lusty student fantasies. Cosplayers, though, have also been using it to recreate scenes from their favorite schoolhouse anime series.
In aiming for authenticity, there’s even a school chime that sounds when you enter the room, and while they’re not seen in the picture, the room does include a Jacuzzi bath and futon sleeping mats, though its doubtful cosplayers have much need for either.
Soft on Demand was also involved in the design of this hospital room, which looks almost exactly like the real thing.
For more classical settings, there’s also room 211, styled after a traditional Japanese house, and thus a possible location for samurai epics.
Once the heroic swordsmen catch the villain, they could detain him in Room 206, an old-school Japanese prison.
Oddly enough, Keibajo Us even has a room based on “the image of Japan that foreigners have,” which it also admits incongruously has a dancing platform and disco ball.
▼ Wait, do people from overseas imagine conchs when they think of Japan?
A little more modern, but not too contemporary, is Room 207, which is designed to look like a typical Japanese home circa 1955.
Moving outside of the Japanese themes, the hotel touts that Room 210 will “make you feel like you’re in Mongolia.”
And finally, Room 205 seems like it could be a suitable choice for certain science fiction or cyberpunk cosplays.
▼ Although it also seems like it would be the least sexy/romantic for ordinary love hotel patrons, even with Keibajo Us boasting that “It feels like you’re in a man’s workplace.”
Aside the convenience of not having to dress the sets yourself, there’s another advantage to choosing the hotel for cosplay purposes: the cost. Like most love hotels, Keibajo Us offers discounted rates for non-overnight short stays (in Keibajo Us’ case four hours at some point between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.) and long stays (the 12 hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.).
For the rooms pictured here, short stays cost between 4,100 and 5,900 yen (US$33 and $47), and when broken down to the cost per hour, is much less than time in a photo studio. The price becomes even more attractive in the case of the 12-hour stays, which for the cosplay-friendly rooms run between 4,900 and 6,700 yen, meaning your photo session could be as cheap as 408 yen (US$3.25) an hour.
Oh, and for those of you who’re interested in love hotels for non-cosplay purposes, these rooms are also available for overnight stays (from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m.) at prices from 6,100 to 8,100 yen.
Keibajo Us / 競馬所 Us
Address: Niigata-ken, Niigata-shi, Kita-ku Kizaki 2592-1