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Love Hotel


The love hotel institution is deeply frowned upon in mainstream society despite it being a tradition originating from Medieval Japan and that more than 2 million Japanese people go there every day. A love hotel is not meant for sex workers (give or take a dominatrix or two) and is usually populated by couples looking for some time away. It can be whatever the guests want it to be. LOVE HOTEL chose to focus on one establishment in Osaka though it is indistinguishable from the 37,000 other hotels strewn across the country.

There is a diverse cross-section of people to be found. Directors Philip Cox and Hikaru Toda gained incredible access to their lives and captured some very intimate moments: a partner confessing an infidelity, an old man whose sexuality has all but disappeared, a husband and wife desperately trying to rekindle the spark. The most affecting couple, though, might be the retired, seperated couple who meet in the same room once a week to dance.

There are elements of the Japanese cliché of emotional disconnectedness and repression transformed into extreme behavior, to be sure, but LOVE HOTEL often rises above the stereotype. Save for the incongruent music heard throughout the film, Cox and Toda provide a gentle yet direct look at the lives of the protagonists. Though the kitschy concept rooms (an animal room, a boxing ring, an ancient Egypt room) are filled with cheap props, something real occurs within those walls. The hotel is a place to witness truth; a place of release of both a physical and emotional nature.

During filming the increasingly conservative government was in the process of introducing a new entertainment law that has made it much harder for the hotels (and for people wanting to dance after midnight). The owner is forced to close down the more ‘adult’ rooms yet the love hotel’s status as a Japanese staple is never in doubt.

Elinor Lewy


Frankreich/Japan/Großbritannien 2014, 75 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Philip Cox, Hikaru Toda
Author: Philip Cox, Hikaru Toda
Montage: Esteban Uyarra
Music: Florencia Di Concilio
Distributor: déjà-vu Filmverleih
Release: 11.06.2015



  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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