A clever Tokyo ho­tel stacks tra­di­tional inns one on top of the other

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - CRUISE NEWS - CHRIS PRITCHARD

Could this re­ally be the weird­est ho­tel in Ja­pan? Ex­ter­nally it’s noth­ing spe­cial – just an­other stylish high-rise re­minder of why Aus­tralians visit a metropo­lis con­sid­er­ing it­self the most hi-tech cap­i­tal city on earth.

Dar­ing ar­chi­tec­ture – such as reach-for-the-sky build­ings that seem about to top­ple but don’t – is it­self a Tokyo at­trac­tion. Add to the mix food, shop­ping, night life, his­toric tem­ples and palaces, cul­tural icons and quirk­i­ness – all of this makes Tokyo so dis­tinc­tively Ja­panese.

Ja­pan is “hot”. Nearly 450,000 Aus­tralians vis­ited last year, up a whop­ping 47.1 per cent from two years ear­lier. And many of them con­sider stay­ing in a ryokan (tra­di­tional inn). The ryokan – the clos­est western equiv­a­lent is a B&B – orig­i­nated more than 300 years ago, serv­ing trav­ellers along then-bumpy high­ways. They typ­i­cally fea­ture rooms with tatami mats and rice-pa­per walls. Of­ten fam­ily-run, they en­cour­age guests to wan­der through pub­lic areas in yukatas (light­weight cot­ton ki­monos worn as bathrobes). Some have on­site com­mu­nal on­sen baths (for soak­ing not wash­ing). They’re mostly small, oc­cu­py­ing Ja­panese-style lowrises (of­ten houses).

But high prices some­times force would-be Tokyo ryokan guests to dump the idea. De­mand is such that some room rates even ex­ceed those at five-star ho­tels. Mind you, al­though prices are high so are stan­dards.

But one Tokyo prop­erty owner had a brain­wave: a high-rise up-mar­ket ho­tel styled as a ryokan. The re­sult is


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