Hotels in Japan turn to uniquely Japanese elements to woo tourists

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

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As the number of foreign visitors to Japan continues to surge, unique hotels featuring quintessentially Japanese elements such as manga and robots have opened one after another.

There is an ongoing construction boom for hotels, with an eye on further increases in inbound foreign tourists, and some facilities are working to differentiate themselves from rival hotels.

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 resemble 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", 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.

In December last year, Ryumeikan, a Tokyo-based company that operates hotels and other facilities, opened Hotel 1899 Tokyo in Minato Ward, Tokyo, which emphasises the theme of Japanese green tea.

Guest rooms decorated using green as their basic colour are equipped with lights in the shape of chasen bamboo whisks, and guests can enjoy freshly served green tea in the lobby.

Accommodation facilities in historical buildings are also increasing in number, such as shirohaku properties that allow guests to stay in such places as the yagura tower of a castle.

The number of foreigners visiting Japan increased by 8.7 per cent in 2018 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.

 
 

In 2018, 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 increasing, there is growing interest in experience-oriented consumption, in which tourists focus on enjoying 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.