Tokyo Rumando is the pen-name of a young Tokyo photographer who has entered the world of the love hotel to produce a book of self-portraits. Visiting more than 20 love hotels in Tokyo, alone with her camera, she takes us with her into this other world. We sense the excitement of the first encounter with a lover, the sometimes tragic events that occur, as well as the tawdry and sordid nature of many encounters here. But in all cases it is a significant remove from the every day life of the city.

The title references the signs outside Japan's love hotels; rates vary according to the time spent in the hotel. You can choose to stay overnight, or for a lower room charge, for a couple of hours.

Love hotels have been part of Japanese urban life for decades, a place for lovers, a practical solution to the lack of privacy in many Japanese neighborhoods; with thin walls, sliding doors, houses built back to back, where a conversation can be overheard not only in the neighbouring room, but often also in the next house. These are also the place for illicit love affairs, sometimes prostitution and are often under the ambit of the yakuza, Japan's organised crime gangs.

Tokyo Rumando has also explored historical and cultural aspects of the hotels. They tend to cluster around the historical entertainment districts. Most famous are the districts of Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yoshiwara, with links that stretch back a century or more in Tokyo's pleasure quarters.

The hotels also represent a rite of passage for most Japanese people as they enter their teens and twenties; where many enter the realm of the senses. On the surface, Japan is a well-ordered, clean society. Tokyo Rumando's photographs take us through the walls into a very private world, where fulfilment, excitement, fantasy andlove is sought within the vast metropolis of Tokyo.

ーMark Pearson (Zen Foto Gallery)

Artist Profile

Tokyo Rumando

Tokyo Rumando was born in 1980 in Tokyo. Self-taught, she began shooting photographs in 2005 and mainly focuses on self-portraits. Active in and out of Japan, her series “Orphée” was a part of the group exhibition “Performing for the Camera” at Tate Modern (London) in 2016, and her solo exhibition “The Story of S” was held at Museum Folkwang (Essen, Germany) in 2020. Her solo exhibitions include, ”I’m only happy when I’m naked” (Ibasho Gallery, Antwerp, 2018; Taka Ishii Gallery Photography Paris, 2016); “S” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2018); “Orphée” (Tokyo Light Room, Place M, Zen Foto Gallery, Tokyo, 2014); “REST 3000~ STAY 5000~” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2012); “Hotel Life” (Place M, Tokyo, 2012). Her photobooks include S (2018); selfpolaroids (2017), Orphée (2014), and Rest 3000~ Stay 5000~ (2012), all published by Zen Foto Gallery. In July 2021, Tokyo Rumando will participate in the group exhibition “Tokyo: Art & Photography” at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Publications & Prints


Tokyo Rumando