Japanese Love Hotels: A Cultural History, by Sarah Chaplin. London/New York: Routledge, 2007, 242 pp. with photos, figures and tables, £85 (cloth)

The love-hotel industry is one of Japan's most profitable. It accounts for more than ¥4 trillion a year, a figure nearly four times than that of the profit of Toyota Motors, double that of the anime market, and a trillion yen more than the annual takings of the Japan Racing Association.

Supporting this are 30,000 love hotels nationwide providing places for the 500 million visits that take place each year. Some 1,370,000 couples use a love hotel daily (1 percent of the total population of 127 million people on any given day), and one research project has calculated that half of all sex in Japan takes place in a love hotel, and that consequently a large part of the country's offspring is conceived in one.

This is because a large percentage of the patrons are married to each other. It has been estimated that customers fall into three categories: married, just dating, and adulterous. Their demands, however, are all the same — couples (married to each other or not) seeking space dedicated to sexual intimacy on a short-term basis, away from their crowded, nosy homes.