The Photographer Who Paid To Spy On Hundreds Of Hotel Guests In Japan

The Photographer Who Paid To Spy On Hundreds Of Hotel Guests In Japan

Avatar of Julieta Sanguino

By: Julieta Sanguino

February 8, 2017

Photography The Photographer Who Paid To Spy On Hundreds Of Hotel Guests In Japan
Avatar of Julieta Sanguino

By: Julieta Sanguino

February 8, 2017


As intimacy is blurred, nudity releases eroticism into the air, while something in the back of your head reminds you the intruder is not far away. It won’t be long before he’s gone, so you and your lover can finish what you started.

Bertrand Japan Love Hotel

It’s not suspicion, just a slight embarrassment that you can’t do anything about. Someone has already paid you for this, and now you need to show your body in exchange to this invitation.

Love Hotel Japan Couple

You picked the place, the right moment, and pose in a way that highlights your best side. You try to forget anything exists outside this room.

Love Hotel Zaza Bertrand

You stop listening to your parents’ voices telling you to strive for a successful future. You tell yourself you’re not a statistic, that your destiny is one of happiness, freedom, and sensuality. To hell with keeping secrets, to hiding life in a capsule. Sex is more than a whisper. That’s why you’re here in a backstreet hotel, to encounter the skin of another.

Bertrand Love Hotel Anniversary

The line between the private and the public is gone. After all, how many of these Rabuhos, these clandestine love hotels, have you visited this past month? This past week? These kitschy neon-lit tacky palaces that everyone pretends they’ve never been to. But as much as your coworkers or classmates deny it, you know they’ve stepped foot in there more than once.

Clandestine Love Hotel Room Japan

They’ve become a popular business throughout the country. You read about how there’s at least 35 thousand in Japan. Those hallways are full of boiling desire, and the rooms turn all those fantasies into actions. Everything is allowed. Everyone is welcome.

Love Hotel Japan Underwear

What if your parents are in the room next door? Would they want to forget all about their daily existence and have some time to reconnect, away from the trappings of the home? In this place, there is no societal-dictated submission. No one needs to revere anyone. Neither party needs to pretend to be functional. Age, social class, preference, orientation, none of this matters here.

Love Hotel Japan Zaza Bertrand Water

Couples can connect and be free in a safe space. But discretion is key: guests can purchase their stay from a machine, and if anyone wants a service, there’s a small window that preserves their anonymity.

Phonecall Japan Love Hotel

Who invited you? How did you meet the one taking the pictures? You’ve gathered some information yet you don’t speak the same language.

[End of fiction]

Rabuho Love Hotel Japan Bertrand

Zaza Bertrand is from Belgium, yet her keen interest in the melding of the public and the private led her to dive into this side of Japanese culture. At first she began waiting for people outside these love hotels to propose a trade: she would pay for a maximum of three hours stay, while the lovers would allow her to capture them at their most intimate.

Window Japan Love Hotel Bertrand

The vagrant rejections made her reframe her method. She began contacting the would-be models online. She’d request suggestive pictures, and those who wanted to participate would respond enthusiastically. Then they’d set the details to be part of this project.

Zaza Bertrand Love Hotel Japan

The body is at the center, not just because it appears in the photographs, but because the language barrier made the physical into the only form of communication. One snapshot was able to keep a sensation alive forever.

Alienation and loneliness. Public and private. Dark and light. Secrets and appropriate behavior. Japan’s dichotomies are as real as those extravagant hotels that are willing to do anything to satisfy their guests.

You can see more of Zaza Bertrand and her work here.  

You can also follow this couple's trip down the dark alleys of Japan or dive into the hidden lives of the Yakuza

Source: featureshoot

Translated by María Suárez