5. Be Mine

The Japanese gangster, Ryu, appeared to be dead. He lay naked, face-up on the heart-shaped bed of the Shakayama Love Hotel. I could see Miura, or what was left of him, a giant looming over the bed, leaning ominously over my lover’s inert form. Both men were reflected in the mirror above the bed. Ryu, spread eagle, his well-muscled body dressed only in the tattoos that the yakuza fancy, was partially hidden by Miura’s massive, white-shirted back, upon which a red stain bloomed, bright and fat, like a large cabbage rose. Miura seemed impervious to whatever had caused him his injury, and he was obviously up to no good. That is how I’d found them when I opened the bathroom door.

Love hotels are a quirky Japanese institution. Like capsule hotels, which are the size of small coffins and a great place to “sleep it off” after a wild night out, love hotels serve a particular purpose—that purpose is “quickies,” a hot snatch of love midday or mid-marriage. Some of these hotels are outrageous, with facades capped by turrets and spires reminiscent of tacky fairytale castles, ersatz Middle Eastern seraglios, or one of those corny miniature golf courses. The hotels Ryu favored were far more discreet, their tree-shadowed entrances tucked behind stone walls, the parking underground so that patrons can duck in and out without fear of observation. They are no-tell hotels where guests select rooms from a series of illuminated photos on the wall: the harem, perhaps, or maybe the S&M suite. There is no one to judge you as you slide your thousands of yen through a slot in the wall for your one- to two-hour “rest” or kyukei, or your tomari, the overnight stay.

This was the second time I’d been to a love hotel with Ryu. He liked the drama of the surroundings. He liked the privacy, and I liked anything that involved him. This particular room had a black-leather wet-bar stocked with expensive whiskies and a heart-shaped bed with red satin sheets. It also had a very large, well-appointed black- and white-tiled bathroom, and this is where I must have been when Miura snuck into the room.

  • boldlow

    Hey Erin – like the photo that accompanies this post – anxious to read beyond the teasing…come on September!

  • Linda Coffin

    This is great! And I am learning sooo much at today's culture in Japan!

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