Since the Edo Period in Japan, establishments appearing to be inns or teahouses began offering private rooms for clients and their prostitutes or for lovers to have an intimate place to be together. Today, they have evolved into the popularly know as Love Hotels with pay-by-the hour rooms, rotating beds, mirrors on the ceiling and S&M gear available in vending machines.
Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda spent years inside one of these hotels documenting the lives of frequent costumers, getting to know about the life they led inside and outside the hotel. The documentary Love Hotel is is gonna be shown at the Reykjavik International Film Festival this year in the non-fiction strand of the festival.
Even though these hotels are used by 2.5 million people a day, according to co-director Phil Cox, "Japan is enforcing a controversial law called 'The Entertainment Law' across the country, which focuses on controls on the nightlife and entertainment industry. Clubs must now have licenses for people to dance after midnight or they risk closure. Love Hotels must have regulation-sized mirrors, there’s a crack down on S&M and vending machines – it’s penalising an industry which clearly services a great need, as people go to love hotels in their millions. Japan is becoming increasingly conservative and nationalist – there’s even a re-look at the pacifist constitution now. Love Hotels are a space of sexual freedom and many are being forced to tone down, to either become business hotels or close. Japan has a rigid, demanding work ethic, a deeply conformist culture and tight living spaces and that all leads to the very human necessity of a space to let it all out."