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Inside Japan's love hotels

Love hotels

Young Japanese people have a problem: until they're married, most of them live with their parents—even if they're pulling in a healthy salary. Since housing in Japan's crowded cities is exorbitantly expensive, that's great for the budget; it's less good for the old sex life. So what's a young couple to do?

Enter the "love hotel," Japan's creative solution to this problem. Rooms are usually rented by the hour, and they're often decorated in outlandish styles. Under a recent law, they must be located in red light districts like Tokyo's famous Shinjuku.

Dwell magazine contributor Misty Keasler has been to a lot of love hotels... if only because she has a new photo-packed book on the subject. It's at turns fascinating and disturbing—but never boring.

My favorite fantasy room? The Hello Kitty S&M room at Hotel Adonis in Osaka:

Hello kitty S&M room
 

(Hat tip: Boing Boing)

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Morning Brief, Monday, December 18

Iraq and Middle East

Abu Mazen poster at Fatah rally

Tensions are coming to a boil in the Palestinian territories after President Mahmoud Abbas called for new elections. His goal? To unseat the Hamas government. Hamas plans to boycott, but Tony Blair says to go ahead.

Gunmen attacked the Red Crescent (like the Red Cross, only Islamic) in Iraq, kidnapping dozens.

Is Iran's Holocaust-denying president on the outs? Voters expressed discontent with the radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Friday's elections, putting pragmatist Hashemi Rafsanjani back in business.

The U.S. sent 33 detainees home from Guantanamo, leaving 395 in the detention facility. 16 of those released were from Saudi Arabia.

Asia

6-party talks table

North Korea is typically defiant at the start of today's resumed six-party talks over its nuclear weapons. Expectations are low. So far, North Korea wants the sanctions lifted before anything happens. The good news: it looks like the participants have at least agreed on the shape of the negotiating table.

Europe

Did someone say la unilatéralisme? France is bombing the Central African Republic in order to save Darfur.

Brussels plans to deep-six France's effort to tax goods from non-Kyoto countries. Among other reasons, it's just not practical.

To make matters worse, truffle production is plummeting and Chinese counterfeits are on the rise.

Elsewhere

U.S. policy in Somalia is failing, says the Washington Post.