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)