TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Takaki Kawatsu, CEO of Kaisu
TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
by Melisa Kaya
Kaisu is located in the heart of Tokyo. With its room options for every need, Kaisu has been hosting guests in this former ryotei with a café and bar. In this cozy atmosphere, guests can taste their coffee and Japanese craft beer at any time and start their day with breakfast every morning. Located at a walking distance from many tourist attractions, the Kaisu offers a different accommodation experience to guests who are looking for experiencing Tokyo. I talked with Takaki Kawatsu, CEO of Kaisu, to learn more about him and the story of Kaisu.
Takaki, before talking about Kaisu, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Takaki Kawatsu?
Takaki Kawatsu, CEO of Kaisu
I was born and raised in Nagoya. After the high school, I moved to Boston for study abroad. I worked in real estate business throughout my career before I started Kaisu. My hobby is surfing. I’ve been surfing for 10 years.
Could you tell us about the history of the Kaisu?
I started Kaisu with my friend who was my roommate at university in Boston. Kaisu is our first project. Before we started Kaisu, we were doing different business and at the stage in life where we were both eager to start own business. We both like travel, surfing, meeting people, and working in the cosmopolitan environment. We naturally got along well and decided to do business together. We wanted to create a place that diverse people gather and have a good time. After giving thoughts to many ideas, we eventually decided on doing hostel. Four years ago, when we started looking for a new business opportunity, there were not many cool hostels around, and we thought we could make one. That is how Kaisu started.
Kaisu is located in Akasaka, Tokyo. Could you briefly tell us about your location? What are the advantages of being there?
Akasaka is the center of Tokyo geographically. The area is very convenient to go to any popular area of Tokyo. We are within walking distance to 5 metro line stations and there are several major tourist destinations within walking distance such as Roppongi Hill, National Art Center, Tokyo Tower, and 21_21 Design Site.
Could you tell us about Kaisu, the overall concept and your team?
Kaisu means "to gather up". We wanted the place to become the hub of connection for people from all over the world.
We have 15 staff. Most of us are in 20’s and 30’s, about the same age as our guest. Every staff speaks English and has a unique talent such as singing, dancing, DJ, etc.
The building used to be ryotei. Ryotei is Japanese style dining restaurant where customers are entertained by geisha during the dinner. We wanted to keep the authenticity of the history while creating a modern atmosphere.
What type of different rooms do you have? What are their features?
We have five rooms in total. Private room x 1. 6-beds shared dormitory room x 1. 10-beds female only dormitory room x 1. 14-beds shared dormitory room x 2. For all rooms, toilets and showers are shared. The private room is Japanese style tatami room with futon. For dormitory rooms, bunk beds are bigger than normal bunk beds. Each bed is equipped with lighting, plug, curtain and security box. There is an extra floor space beside the mattress to store luggage so that guest does not need to sleep with the luggage.
What features of Kaisu sets it apart from other hostels in Tokyo?
We are located in a unique location for a hostel. As mentioned earlier, Akasaka is a great spot to use as a base because of its superb accessibility to any other part of Tokyo. Also, the building and interior are very authentic.
Bar & Table is looking like a heritage of your building, what could your guests find in Bar & Table?
Our main feather is coffee and beer. We have a good espresso machine, La Marzocco DB5, and barista. For beer, we have six taps and we mostly offer Japanese craft beer. Japanese craft beer is growing quickly and it should be an interesting experience. The atmosphere is cozy and friendly.
Please tell us about your services and amenities. How could your guests spend time at Kaisu?
We provide breakfast. Not many hostels in Tokyo provide breakfast. Guest can plan the day while having breakfast. Our front desk staff serves as a concierge as well. If guests have questions or need advice, we try our best to provide a solution. We just started walking tour. Our staff guides the guest to the various area. At the Bar and Table, our friendly staff keep company with guest and tell you their favorite local spots and interesting things about Tokyo or Japan. After returning hostel from a long day, good coffee or beer should help the guest to loosen up and shake off the stress from bustling train ride and busy streets.
How can travelers make their individual or group reservations?
For individual reservation, we take reservation through our website, Booking.com, Agoda, Hostelworld, and Ctrip. For group reservation with more than 10 guests, please send us an email directly.
Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit Tokyo?
The busiest season is March end and the first week of April when cherry blossom are blooming. Also, the Year End and New Year, Chinese New Year season, July through early September are busy.
What are the most famous attractions near you?
Roppongi Hill, Tokyo Tower, National Art Center, 21_21 Design Site are within walking distance. Omotesando, Shibuya, and Harajuku are a few stations away.
If you have only one weekend in Tokyo as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?
On Saturday, visit Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara area. That is downtown of Tokyo. The three area are next to each other. In Asakusa, there is a famous temple. In Ueno, there is a nice park with national museums. Akihabara is otaku town. There are many shops of anime, game, cartoon, and other very niche things.
On Sunday, visit Shibuya-Harajuku-Omotesando area. That is the center of youth culture of Japan or East Asia. There are so many activities, shops and café to check out.
How do you describe Tokyo in one sentence?
Tokyo has many centers and each center offers a unique experience.
Thank you Takaki for this enjoyable interview.