NEW YORK/TOKYO – As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach, hotels in the capital are boosting capacity and investing in cultural activities to accommodate foreign visitors.
It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 25,000 new hotel rooms in Tokyo, an increase of about 26 percent from 2016, according to real estate service provider CBRE.
At the same time, many hotels have prepared cultural experience programs such as photo sessions with guests in kimono or yukata (summer kimono) and classes in traditional arts like origami and tea ceremony. Most of these classes are available in English.
“Visitors to Japan are going to shift their interest from shopping to looking for experiences that will become good memories,” Keio Plaza Hotel President Mamoru Yamamoto told Kyodo News in New York.
Last month, Keio Plaza invited local travel writers and bloggers to a reception in Manhattan as part of efforts to promote the brand to non-Japanese customers. In 2016, more than three-quarters of the guests who stayed at Keio Plaza were from overseas.
“This is completely different from the tea we are used to having here,” said Robert Anthony, a travel and tech writer, sipping matcha freshly made by a tea master from Japan.
“Eventually, I’d like to write about this,” said Anthony, whose friends had stayed at Keio Plaza during a trip to Japan.
In addition to the cultural programs, the hotel is also known for its Hello Kitty-themed guest rooms.
At Hotel Okura Tokyo, guests can have lunch and an origami lesson for ¥7,000 (about $62). A Japanese traditional guest room with a lesson in ikebana is available from ¥48,080 at Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa.