Hoteliers woo tourists with quintessentially Japan experience

TOKYO • As the number of foreign visitors to Japan continues to surge, hotels featuring quintessentially Japanese elements such as manga and robots have mushroomed.

There is an ongoing construction boom for hotels, with an eye on further increases in the number of foreign tourists.

Hotels are working to differentiate themselves from their rivals. Hotel Tavinos Hamamatsucho in Minato ward, Tokyo, is a case in point.

Opened on Aug 1 by Fujita Kanko, the operator of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo and other facilities, the hotel's interior design incorporates many elements that depict scenes from manga. These include a bedcover with an illustration of an egg being cracked for frying with the sound effect "paka" written in Japanese, and carpeting in the corridors with katakana characters reading "teku teku", an onomatopoeia that expresses the sound of footsteps.

"We paid a lot of attention not only to emphasising Japaneseness, but also to making the interior photogenic, so that young foreigners would spread information about the hotel on social media," the hotel's general manager said.

Last December, Ryumeikan, a Tokyo-based company that operates hotels and other facilities, opened Hotel 1899 Tokyo, also in Minato ward, which takes on the theme of Japanese green tea.

Guest rooms are painted green as the basic colour, and have lights in the shape of chasen bamboo whisks used in tea ceremonies.

Accommodation facilities nestled in historical buildings have also begun to sprout. Shirohaku properties allow guests to stay in such places as the tower of a castle.

A bedcover with an illustration of an egg being cracked for frying and the sound effect "paka" written in Japanese at Hotel Tavinos Hamamatsucho. PHOTO: THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The number of foreigners visiting Japan increased by 8.7 per cent last year from the previous year to 31.19 million people.

In Tokyo and Osaka prefecture, the average hotel occupancy rate remains high at around 80 per cent.

Last year, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the number of construction for accommodation facilities, including hotels, totalled 2,118 - about 2.4 times the level five years before.

As the number of repeat tourists is also increasing, there is growing interest in experience-oriented consumption, in which tourists look for enjoyable or special experiences at their travel destinations.

"We need to make efforts to add other values than accommodation, so that inbound foreign tourists choose us," an official in the hotel industry said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Hoteliers woo tourists with quintessentially Japan experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe