Japanese Love Hotels • Peter Marlow • Magnum Photos

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Japanese Love Hotels

Peter Marlow’s images explore the empty rooms of love hotels that play host to the intimate moments of Kyoto inhabitants

Peter Marlow

Peter Marlow An interior of a room in the love hotel 'Dance in Kyoto'. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow The Planetarium room. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of 'Dance in Kyoto'. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow A love hotel. Love hotels are usually grouped around highway interchanges, for their ease of access and anonymity, and rooms are for hire by the hour. Cars are provided with confidential parking ar (...)
Peter Marlow Interior of a bedroom in the 'Dance in Kyoto' hotel. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of 'Hotel Tiffany'. Drinks are served anonymously through a small hatchway in the wall to avoid contact with guests. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of the 'Dance in Kyoto' lobby, showing different rooms available. The lights in the display go off once the room is let. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of a 'Love in Kyoto' hotel room. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of a 'Hotel Tiffany' bedroom. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of a 'Fashion Hotel' bedroom. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of 'Dance in Kyoto' check-in desk, with smoked glass screen so eye-contact with clients can be avoided. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Interior of a ‘Hotel Tiffany’ bedroom, decorated in the theme of a gym. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow A corridor in 'La Foret' hotel. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow 'Hotel Tiffany'. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow Hotel ‘Dance in Kyoto.' Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow The customers number plate is obscured to ensure their anonymity at hotel 'Dance in Kyoto'. Kyoto, Japan. 2000. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos

Love hotels are a uniquely different Japanese tradition. In a country where homes are small and families stay together because of high living costs, love hotels originally began as a private refuge for young couples still living at home, but have since become an integrated part of Japan’s increasingly futuristic landscape. The hotels are usually located near motorway interchanges and rooms can be rented by the hour or by the night. Everything is provided to meet the needs of couples, from condoms to sex-toys, and the rooms, considerably large by Japanese standards, are lavishly decorated according to various themes and settings. Access is gained electronically by using a credit card, often from an underground car park, and secrecy is of the utmost importance. The process is completely devoid of any and all human contact, apart from that shared by the couples themselves.