Yes, Virginia (and Mara and Wei and Dev and Ashley), there IS a Santa Claus. And contrary to popular belief, Santa only winters at the North Pole with the Missus! But he’d love to have you visit his permanent residence — in Osaka — if you have a little time, and mischief, on your hands.
That’s right, jolly ol’ Saint Nick makes his home in Japan, at the eyepopping Chapel Christmas, in one of Japan’s thousands of “love hotels.” Santa’s a nice chap, but he’s never naive. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, and he knows there always a little of both going on at the Hotel Chapel Christmas.
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“Love hotels” are aptly named in Japan, with rooms usually booked by the hour, for the purpose of discreet romantic trysts. In fact, love-hotel venturers will often encounter a pair of human hands behind a pane of frosted glass, adding to the fantastical sense of otherworldly clandestineness. Some love hotels have no windows at all. (Almost makes you want to call home: “YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME AND THE SAUCY SWEDISH MISTRESS, HONEY!”).
Which is why a seemingly wholesome, yet possibly bizarrely sexy, definitively Christmas-themed, 24-7, “clandestine” yet Vegas-Strip-worthy rendezvous spot (in Japan) has earned our official Spot Cool Stuff: Death by Paradox: Synapse Explosion Award.
There are love hotels, and there are hotels we love, and there are love hotels we love to love, and there is the Christmas Chapel in Osaka, Japan, which will forever remain in a category of its very own. A one-of-a-kind destination, mighty special, mighty odd, and possibly, depending on the company you keep, mighty titillating. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.
Stockings may wind up on the floor instead of over the fireplace, but jolly old Saint Nick doesn’t mind one bit at the Chapel Christmas, because he’s off-duty and just glad you’re having a good time. And here’s a Secret Santa tip for the savveler (savvy traveler—we keep trying to get it into the Oxford Dictionary, but they’re not biting—yet): Japan’s love hotels (Noel-themed or nay) are often a terrific deal if you’re looking for more than just a quick…visit. Rates at the Chapel Christmas depend on the time of year and time of day but average around ¥3,000 (about US$28) for an hour or ¥7,000 for a 12-hour overnight; save a few extra yen with an online “Thank’s Coupon.”
So if you find yourself in Osaka midsummer, hankering for Christmas, skip the reindeer and call a cab. You sure won’t forget it.
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