The Hotel Royal haikyo in Kanagawa is the grand-daddy of all love hotels, streaking 7 empty stories up into the big blue sky, a giant vermillion flag on the banks of Sagamiko Lake calling out to all and sundry in a mega-watt alto- ‘Need some discreet time alone with your loved one? Come on down!’
I couldn`t find out any historical information about this haikyo, and I doubt there is anything much to be found. It probably went up in the last 10 years, came down in the last 5, and for the most part passed unremarked in the life of the area. It just seems like a bad idea, for several reasons.
First off, it`s basically a classy love hotel, across 7 floors with around 35 rooms of varying sizes, all of them decorated in a unique manner- some of them a bit wacky, most fairly plain.
It`s in a quiet area, on a road far from the nearest train station, overlooking a peaceful lake.
So who was the target audience? Young people looking to sow their wild oats in private would unlikely have access to a car, so we can rule most of them out.
Couples trying to get away from the kids would be going out of their way to come here, so why not then have a properly classy time in a ryokan, where they could still do any of the deeds a love hotel is famous for. That leaves a third class- married men and women on surreptitious affairs, looking for an out of the way place where they wouldn`t be seen conducting their illicit liaisons. And how many of them could there be? Obviously not enough.
Add to all that- the idea is just tawdry, like Las Vegas without the limbo-ish in-between location or any of the relaxed local laws.
I went to this haikyo with my buddy Geoff- the first time for him, and now the last, since he’s going back to the USA in a week or so. Ah, what a transient place Japan is. The Love Hotels go up and come down, and friends come and go.
There are two types of haikyo really- the old ones and the new ones. The old ones may be anything abandoned for longer than 20 or so years, the new ones for less. They have very different charms- with the old ones you get the creative destruction of Nature rippling through the fabric, but not so much of the just-lived-in feel of the newer ones. But- that feel from the new ones is often not that interesting, because the people in question are only distanced from us by a short time. So, I like the old ones better.
As for this place- it could almost have been closed just a few days ago, for all the chance nature has had to get in. First off, as is my usual style, we cased the place thoroughly front and back.
Out back there were steps down to a utilities/generator room, which was filled with pipes and engines more tired and overwrought than any other part of the structure. Were they perhaps overclocking?
Back up the steps and behind the kitchen were a bunch of old arcade machines, and these tarred gloves, left to ‘dry’ on a rusted shelving unit.
This is how you choose your room in a Love Hotel- there’s a whole board of these photos of each room. You choose the one you like- then tell it to the attendant, who is in a walled-off booth with normally only their hands showing. Discreet. Of course we went to 701, though it was less impressive without the LED rings lit up.
The top floor was a big function area, maybe 2 large dining rooms with their own kitchen. Now a bunch of junk was lying around- video cassettes, books, manga, TV’s.
We couldn’t get onto the roof, the way was blocked by a solid metal door, but out the side of the top floor kitchen there was a mini balcony, and I could get this shot of one of the regal R’s:
And that was it, really. Geoff and I walked the long way to the next station in the gathering dark, having a good final chat about real and heavy stuff. There was another haikyo I wanted to see nearby- Sun Hills- but it was far too dark, and would have to wait for a second trip out.
Info taken from Michael John Grist, check out more of his Haikyo adventures