HOSHINOYA Tokyo: A Dream
A traditional Japanese inn, in central Tokyo
Of all the lodgings around the world, few are as defined by the culture from which they originated as the ryokan. Everything about a ryokan--its architecture, aesthetics, amenities, services, and food--are unmistakably Japanese. It is a design so specific that there is no room for Western influences. One might even describe it as a Japan-themed hotel.
Modernization, however, has not been kind to the ryokan industry. Ryokan have practically vanished from the cities and, every year, are shrinking in number in more remote areas as well. Taking their place are Western-style business hotels which, in an effort to meet the demands of the times, continue to evolve so they can cater to the modern traveler.
At some point, the ryokan stopped evolving. Proprietors cared more about honoring an idealized vision of the ryokan than considering the changing needs of the modern traveler. I want the ryokan to evolve. I want it to transform into a hotel that maintains its distinctively Japanese approach to hospitality, while offering functionality and intuitiveness that rival even that of Western hotels.
This evolution will take place at HOSHINOYA Tokyo, through which I intend to establish the ryokan as an entirely new approach to hotel concept and management. I want to create a market that sees the ryokan not as an aesthetic homage to Japan, but as a specific type of lodging that offers impeccable comfort and service. Only then can the ryokan flourish--not just in Japan, but overseas as well. Today, Japanese cars run the streets of New York, and sushi restaurants occupy street corners all over Paris. Tomorrow, it could be ryokan adding a new Japanese presence to cities around the world.
Yoshiharu Hoshino CEO, Hoshino Resorts
The ryokan, as envisioned by Hoshino Resorts
A consistent, Japanese design
The essence of Japanese architecture lies in the traditional techniques used during construction. These are what give a ryokan its distinctively Japanese aesthetic. Although improvements in functionality, intuitiveness, and comfort are essential for a ryokan to be able to operate as a modern hotel, such changes must not deprive the ryokan of its innate Japanese identity.
Guests at ryokan are expected to take off their shoes at the entrance, demonstrate respect for tea culture, and use communal baths without wearing swimsuits. The Japanese have honored these customs for centuries, understanding that they enhance the comfort and joy they experience during their stay. Ryokan must evolve, just as hotels around the world regularly do; but there are certain aspects that must be maintained for a ryokan to retain its identity.
Seasonality in services
Traveling in Japan is about enjoying the local offerings that are unique to each season. It is about viewing cherry blossoms in the spring, attending local festivals during the summer, mushroom foraging and eating in the fall, and, in the winter, enjoying a bath scented with yuzu citrus. A ryokan, by extension, is a place where one may experience these delights in the comfort of an inn, through services that change in relation to Japan's unofficial twenty-four season calendar.
Creative, knowledgeable staff
Staff at a ryokan are not assigned specific tasks; instead, they are assigned guests whom they attend to throughout their stay. In order to properly provide all services, every staff member is required to possess a wide range of skills--including mastery of calligraphy, ikebana, and tea ceremonies. These skills allow each staff member to put their own creative stamp on each service--one that is both informed and inspired.
HOSHINOYA Tokyo: A tower ryokan
Located on property once owned by the heirs of Sakai Tadatsugu, right-hand man to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, is a soaring tower. It offers easy access to the Imperial Palace--a site where Edo Castle, home to the shogun, once stood. This is HOSHINOYA Tokyo, a ryokan that eschews the traditional layout of a sprawling wooden one-story house and garden. Elements of this classic design, however, can all be found within the two basement and 17 above-ground floors that make up the hotel.Go to the HOSHINOYA Tokyo website
Comfort meets Japanese design
Rooms feature tatami matting, bamboo closets, and other pieces made from natural materials. Interiors are designed to encourage guests to spend their time on the floor, as is tradition, but in ways that are also both contemporary and comfortable.
The freedom of being barefoot
Guests remove their shoes at the entrance. Slippers are not provided, nor needed; guests are encouraged to enjoy the soft feel of tatami matting as they walk to their rooms. Such a custom is increasingly rare in Japanese hotels, yet it is an essential part of the ryokan experience.
A lounge that enhances the seasons
Every floor features a central lounge that is exclusive to guests staying on that floor. It connects directly to every room via a tatami-covered hallway, inviting guests to come and go as they please to simply relax, or enjoy the seasonal refreshments and drinks--tea during the day, alcohol at night--that are served throughout the day.
Stylish, complementary kimonos
It is customary for ryokan to provide guests with casual kimonos. The stylish jersey kimono of HOSHINOYA Tokyo, designed by dye artisan Jotaro Saito, offers great mobility, and is also easy to slip on and off. It is the perfect garment to wear around the hotel, or for short walks in the area, such as a stroll to the Imperial Palace.
More personal service
Guests may find the same staff members working the front desk, cleaning their room, serving them at the hotel restaurant, or offering other services. This is another illustration of the fact that our staff are not simply hired hands, but hosts catering to their guests.