An experimental film essay that narrates the collective and personal memory of three generations of Asian women through the rooms of Japanese love hotels.
About Alisa Yang
Alisa Yang is an antidisciplinary artist and independent filmmaker. She received her BFA from Art Center of Design in 2009, and MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at the University of Michigan in 2016. Her practice is rooted in collage across medium; from two-dimensional work to installation and film, she explores themes of language, cultural identity, memory, and sexuality. Her work has been shown at Riverside Art Museum, Orange County Center of Contemporary Arts, and New Mexico Museum of Art with reviews in the Los Angeles Times, Hyperallergic, and Huffington Post. Her recent films, Please Come Again, won the first Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Golden Reel Award, and Sleeping with the Devil won Best Regional Filmmaker Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Love hotels originated in Japan and it is a type of business unique to Asia. These hotels allow for a wide variety of fantasy “sets” for erotic experiences in very crowded cities. Besides the pressure of conforming to regulation of public morality laws, Japan’s love hotels are motivated to change their image for two reasons. First, women are less inclined to go to love hotels since they have been depicted in TV shows, manga, and literature as a place of crime and nefarious activities. Second, women are increasingly the ones deciding the love hotel they want to go to. Concurrent with the recent rise of women entering the workforce and choosing careers over the traditional homemaker role of marriage, women in Japan are exploring their sexuality and identity in increasing numbers. Just as women are demanding to be the one to choose the love hotels in the relationship, they are proclaiming ownership of their bodies, demanding fulfillment of their desires and pleasure. They are rejecting the prosaic attitudes that women’s bodies are in servitude to their husband, family, and society.
Design trends were constricted by “public moral regulations” and the current popular fantasy of sexual desires. The film set quality of extravagant appropriation of Western culture cliché and sexualized space of the 80’s are fazed out in favor of a more minimal, luxurious, spa resort design. What remains the same is the exotic appeal of the otherworldliness, a safe and private space to explore love, sexuality, and intimacy. When the social expectation of being and interacting is dependent on group mentality instead of individuality, there is no real dedicated space for individuals to authentically occupy. Perhaps this is one of the reasons love hotels are necessities in Japanese culture but not needed in Western cultures. Although an inauthentic environment, love hotels try to fill in the gap by manufacturing images of both home and rootlessness, nostalgia and unfamiliarity, to give permission to be yourself.
I immediately identified with this sentiment of dislocation. Being an Asian American, I am either seen as a foreigner in America or regarded as white-washed in my homeland of Taiwan. I inherited both cultures and an incongruent identity, a collage of Asianness and Western cliché.