Love-less Love Hotels

Japan is notorious for its vibrant and diverse sex industry, more often referred to as the adult entertainment industry. All major train stations are surrounded by izakaya (a Japanese traditional bar), hostess bars, karaoke venues and Love Hotels. Sadly, these “Love Hotels” promise everything but love, and should probably be called “lust hotels” to accurately reflect their true character.


Love hotels offer customers elaborately decorated rooms that can be booked for anything from one hour to multiple days. All kinds of sexual toys, cosplay clothing and food can be ordered for room delivery without ever encountering any hotel staff face-to-face. Even the check-in process is completely contactless in order to protect the privacy of customers.

A 2020 article in Japan Today reports that the demand for this so-called “love” did not decline with the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead has increased in suburban areas.


Regrettably, these hotels are not frequented by married couples looking for a romantic breakaway, but instead are used to exploit women and children, or as a cozy hideout by individuals committing adultery. It is even considered common and acceptable business practice for business colleagues to go to an izakaya for drinking after work, followed by karaoke in a hostess bar, finally leading to a Love Hotel for a few hours before catching the last train home. If only we could stand on the rooftops of these hotels and shout out:


THIS IS NOT LOVE!


The Bible teaches us about real love:


4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13

Probably none of these hotel encounters will live up to this scriptural standard.


In a case in the Machida/Yokohama area, a 10-year old girl was groomed through TikTok by a 34-year old perpetrator. Excited to meet her new online friend face-to-face, the young girl was probably surprised to find that he is an adult male that had more than friendship in mind. Already familiar with her school name and home address, it was easy for him to threaten and force the frightened child to accompany him to a Love Hotel where he sexually assaulted her. If only we could’ve accelerated our prevention efforts and ensured that the hotel staff were trained to identify and report this case before the abuse could take place. We could’ve saved this child from the guilt, shame and fear that she had to suffer! This is just one of many cases that happen daily in Japan.


There are several ways that you can partner with us to stop the exploitation at Love Hotels.


Firstly, make sure that the children you have contact with are aware of the dangers of grooming through social media. Download our free internet safety guide for parents and listen to our podcast episode on this topic.


Secondly, pray for ZOE Japan as we work with various stakeholders to call for stricter regulation over the Love Hotel industry, including mandatory training for hotel staff and the availability of awareness and prevention materials in hotels to provide information to potential victims.


Thirdly, consider a once-off or regular donation to ZOE Japan so that we can expand and accelerate our prevention efforts.


May Love Hotel customers and staff also discover the TRUE LOVE of Jesus and invite Him into their lives to fill the void in their hearts and set them free!


Updated from our original article that was published on goZOE.org in January 2021