Note: Another short stint in Japan beckons, beginning early next month. Regular readers know how Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. enjoy our forays in to the Land of the Rising Sun, so look for some photos and travel commentary from those environs very soon.
With that said, and in spite of the tendency of young Japanese to eschew sexual relationships, the love hotel industry in Japan is still robust. Excerpt:
Japan’s population is shrinking.
Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex. The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funneling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.
But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality. Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing.
True to their moniker, pay-by-the-hour love hotels cater to millions of Japanese couples every year, and increasingly, tourists. There are more than 30,000 love hotels in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone—a multibillion-dollar business that accounts for a quarter of the sex industry.
With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous. When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce.
Oddly, this isn’t a sign of any renewed fecundity:
Japan’s love hotel industry may be prospering, but the country is experiencing a paradoxical decline in marriage, childbirth, and sex.
More than 40 percent of men and women aged 18-34 in Japan have never had sex, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. If the current trend continues, it is projected that by 2060 Japan’s population will have shrunk by 30 percent—an impending economic disaster.
Now, this next stint will have us in the Tokyo region for 2-3 weeks, where a visit to the Shibuya district is not only possible but likely. Since our first visit to that country in 2009, I have (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade my own dear Mrs. Animal to undertake a visit to a love hotel, of course strictly in the name of research; you see, True Believers, how there are no lengths to which I will not go to bring you the best reporting on other cultures and the wonders to be found in exotic lands.
Anyway: I do love Japan and the Japanese people’s demographic trends has been a cause for concern. As scribe Mark Steyn points out, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and the Japanese seem to have opted out. What’s more, Japan has evidently decided to die Japanese. While Europe has become a hotbed of Islamic activism thanks to their unchecked immigration policies – in no small part to attract younger workers to prop up their generous social welfare programs – Japan remains a difficult country to establish yourself in on a long-term basis.
But the love hotel industry gives one hope. Maybe young Japanese people will rediscover the joys of sex.