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While the motel business seems to be smooth-sailing here in Metro Manila—with Pasig, Pasay, and Cubao alone riddled with small hotels and “drive-inns” that allow room use by the hour—its success in Japan is definitely noteworthy. Called by Japanese as “love hotels,” they are so popular that even the global economic recession can’t squelch their booming enterprise.

BBC reports that Japan’s 25,000 love hotels clock in a whopping 500 million visits a year. This number includes customers who come with prostitutes and lovers who simply want to spend quality time.

A lot of love hotels in Japan have cheeky names such as Hotel For You and Asian P-Door. They also boast of themed rooms, some of which lean a little too much toward the weird side! Star Wars, Hello Kitty, Titanic, and merry-go-round are just some of the quirky themed rooms you’ll encounter in a Japanese love hotel.

Rooms in pricier love hotels are fully decked out with extravagant treats such as a state-of-the-art entertainment system, karaoke set, gaming console, Jacuzzi, and even a private sauna.

Despite their flamboyant image, Japan’s love hotels pride themselves on their discretion. The business requires minimal contact between its patrons and the hotel’s staff. They can book a room or pay after their session without having to face a receptionist at all; all they need to do is punch away on a high-tech touch-screen interface. And as it is with some of the swankier motels in Manila, guests can drive into individual garages directly under their designated room—so they are conveniently shielded from prying eyes.

An operator of love hotels in Japan estimates that the love hotel business earns a staggering $40 billion a year. It seems the desire for sex never wavers, even under a financial crunch!

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