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08/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Japanese Love Hotels Boom In The Recession

In Japan, where the global financial meltdown has especially taken its toll, not all industries are languishing. In fact, one of the most notably resilient industries seems to be 'love hotels' (the kind where one may pay by the hour, rather than by the night), according to CNN. One such establishment, the Bonita Hotel in Isawa, currently enjoys a 257 percent occupancy rate. And the industry as a whole is estimated to take in $40 billion per year. From CNN:

"It's a natural human desire. Even these days, on the weekend, every love hotel is full of people -- it's hard to get in. You can never stop sexual desire," said a woman with her boyfriend in Tokyo, who laughed in embarrassment when asked for her name.

Love hotels fill a need for privacy in a country where high population density often means couples have little time alone.

However, some groups have abused the noble love hotel cause for tax evasion purposes. In early June, for example, a religious group called the "Cosmic Truth Society" was charged with declaring $14 million dollars in love hotel revenues as charitable donations, AFP reports:

The group, which runs at least 23 of the pay-by-the-hour hotels and motels, had declared the 1.4 billion yen in revenues over seven years as donations to make them tax-exempt under Japanese law, reports said.

...
A hotel manager was quoted as saying 2,000 yen of the hotel's standard 5500 yen overnight hotel room fee is donated to charity, the Asahi reported.

Japan's booming love hotel industry is in stark contrast to sex industries elsewhere around the world, perhaps because the Japanese use love hotels to connect with their partners, rather than just paid strangers. In Europe, for example, the sex trade business is reportedly suffering, according to Time, prompting brothel owners to conceive of clever new promotional gimmicks to bring customers back in.

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