"Love hotels are inexpensive, and can be used from around noon," says the man, in his mid-60s. "It's a good place for a couple to spend time together without worrying about running into somebody they know.
"But these days many of the hotels post staff at their front desk. At my age, I feel a little embarrassed, and would prefer not to have to confront them face to face."
Love hotels, reports Shukan Post (Nov 9) are attracting growing numbers of seniors of late. The term "love hotel" came into vogue in the early 1970s. Prior to that, they were referred to rather negatively as "tsurekomi yado" (inveigle inns) and it was this change in nomenclature, perhaps, that helped to popularize the hotels among the members of the postwar baby boom generation, who are now in their 60s.
"Looking at what's going on, I'd say that today's seniors are extremely active in terms of love and sex," the aforementioned gentleman adds. "Fortunately they receive social security pensions, and after retirement they have plenty of time on their hands. While engaging in volunteer activities or attending dance classes, many of them are able to hook up with willing partners."
Akira Ikoma, editor of a magazine covering the "pink" trade, tells the magazine that in areas of the capital with large numbers of seniors, perhaps more than half of all love hotel patrons who summon "delivery health" sex workers to their rooms may be aged 60 or over.
"There are 'deri-heru' that restrict their clientele to customers over age 60," Ikoma adds. "I suppose the demand at love hotels for such customers will also increase in the future."
The article raises one interesting question: While some hotels offer seniors discounts, why are most silver patrons apparently disinclined to request a break on the rates? Is it because they are reluctant to show ID with proof of their age?
Apparently it's a matter of pride more than anything else.
"Being reminded that you're old is a turnoff," says one man in his late 60s. "So even though I've used the same place regularly for some time now, I've never asked for their senior's discount."
The Hotel California Kaminarimon, in Tokyo's Asakusa district, completed renovations last July. Kunihiko Kawashima, president of the company that operates the hotel, talks about changes he made to make it more hospitable for the silver trade.
"We've put handrails on the walls by the steps, and also set up machines in the guest rooms so customers can pay without having to deal with a person at the front desk. From customer questionnaire surveys, this feature appears to be very popular."
Hiromi Shimano, operator of another hotel chain, says to attract the older generation they now pipe in background music from the Showa period (1926-1989) and show nostalgic "Nikkatsu Roman Porno" and "Tora-san" films on the cable TV.
"In one hotel we have 19 Western-style rooms and 4 tatami rooms," says Shimano. "In the latter we placed objects like a hibachi or ceramic pig holding mosquito coils, to give a more nostalgic image."
Actually in some hotels with many elderly customers, staff will escort them to the door of their room to keep them from getting confused. And they'll also show them how to operate the remote controller on the entertainment unit in the room. In the winter they also offer room service that includes hot dishes like "nabe" (stews), which are likely to please seniors.
Well aware that older people are still resistant to newfangled digital gadgets, many hotels still stick with analog technologies, such as back-lit wall panels in the lobbies where the rooms can be selected by pressing a button.
"Operators are likely to keep adopting all kinds of thing to attract seniors, and I suppose competition for this age segment is likely to heat up," says Takanobu Yumoto, who puts out a trade publication aimed at love hotel operators.© Japan Today