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TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

Interview with Yutaka Mizuno, General Manager at Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten from Tokyo

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten is located in cultural town Kanda-Ochanomizu in Tokyo. I talked to Yutaka Mizuno about Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten which has 120-years of history.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Yutaka Mizuno

Yutaka Mizuno

TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

by Melisa Kaya

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Since 1899, Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten has been welcoming its guests with the hospitality of the Japanese culture and offering them the opportunity to experience this. From Shigarakiyaki ceramic bathtubs to geta, tatami mat flooring to Kyusu, guests can experience a lot of different elements of Japanese culture in one place. I talked to Yutaka Mizuno, General Manager at Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten, about the past and the present of Ryumeikan.

Yutaka, before talking about Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten, could you tell us about your background and your career in Ryumeikan Co.?

In 2008, I participated in a project of renovation for a branch hotel (Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo)as a consultant, became a board member and took up a position of general manager of Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo.

In 2017, I assumed a position of General Manager of Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Ryumeikan has more than a 100 years of history. Could you briefly tell us about Ryumeikan?

The Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten has stood in the Kanda-Ochanomizu area since it was first established 120 years ago.

Our building has destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and we managed to reconstruct the hotel again.

Miraculously, we have survived the Tokyo air raids in 1945.

Our hospitality and the spirit of Japanese style inns has been passed down for generations for the past 120 years. Ryumeikan is a unique hotel managed by three generations of keepers: the fourth… fifth, and sixth.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU - Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

You are welcoming your guests with Japanese hospitality culture. What does guest mean for you?

We treat all of our guests as our regular customer.

Even if it was the only encounter, we think it is the only once in a lifetime opportunity which is a unique way of seeing things to Japan.

We customize all our suggestions based on guest’s unique wishes and desires.

Everything from tours, transportation, restaurants reservations, and so much more can be organized by contacting us via phone calls or email inquiries.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten is located in cultural town Kanda-Ochanomizu. Could you tell us about your location and advantages of being there?

The hotel’s location is the exact center of Tokyo, and it retains many of the metropolis’s cultural footprints. The area around our hotel is sometimes referred to as the “Quartier Latin of Japan” because of cultured people have gathered there since the Edo period.

Walking past the beautiful arch of the Hijiri Bridge over the Kanda River, you will soon catch sight of the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo Nikolai-do)with its distinctive greenish blue domed roof. This cathedral was designed as an important cultural property by the government on June 21, 1962. Traveling farther to the northern side of the station, you will come to Yushima Temple, a place rich in history, and Kanda Shrine, a place where local people like to gather and relax. Another must - visit spot is Kanda Jimbocho, a nostalgic area known for books and coffee houses. Its streets are lined with secondhand bookstores that sell specialty books and old antique books. In addition, if you walk further to the east, you will come to Akihabara, a famous destination for tourists from all over the world who come to shop in the home electric appliance stores along its bustling streets. In recent years Akihabara has become famous for its new type of unique shops such as maid cafes where waitresses dressed in maid costumes serve customers, as well as shops featuring Japanese anime and manga that have attracted global interest. We highly recommend exploring the town’s cultural landmarks and the great variety of entertainment establishments in the area around Ryumeikan.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten - Room

Could you tell us about Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten and the overall concept? What kind of special services do you offer to your guest for making their stay unforgettable?

Ryumeikan is a hotel with only nine guest rooms. Japan's energized efforts to promote tourism have picked up since Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, with the goal of annually attracting 20 million tourists by the time the Olympics and Paralympics are held in Tokyo in 2020. This year 2018 has already seen the number of tourists from abroad reach 15 million which was a record-breaking increase and the number of repeat visitors to Japan will be also on the rise. More and more people from overseas are becoming interested in Japanese culture, and there is growing demand for experiences that fuse delicate Japanese sensibility with the strong spirit of the past, such as walks through historic towns, classical Japanese entertainment, Budo(martial arts), and opportunities to dress up like shrine maidens. Ryumeikan is a Japanese-style town inn with great assets that have been passed down from previous landladies, such comfortable sleep accommodations and spaces along with refined design. Ryumeikan offers the prestige of a brand and convenience of a hotel, while delivering value that makes in worth the trip to the Kanda-Ochanomizu area. We sincerely hope that our guests enjoy geta (clogs), Shigarakiyaki(ceramic) bathtubs, furoshiki(wrapping cloths) and origami (folding paper), all symbols of elegant and modern Japanese cultural sophistication. Ryumeikan is determined and makes it its mission to encourage as many foreign tourists as possible to discover and enjoy Japan through these experiences.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten - Room

What type of different rooms do you offer to your guests? What are their features?

Ryumeikan is an all-Suite Hotel with only nine guest rooms.

If I express our interior concept in one sentence, the catchphrase is “relaxing to your heart’s content in a space that combines old beauty with innovative functionality and beauty”. All rooms are equipped with Shigarakiyaki ceramic bathtubs and made-to-order mattresses that are exclusively individually manufactured by Japanese artisans.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten - Bath (Shigarakiyaki)

We also have massaging showers that help deliver the functionality you need the enjoy Japanese-style bathing during the stay. For our bath towels, we provide Ehime prefecture-made “Imabari towels”, which are specially selected by a towel sommelier. These towels create a sense of softness and warmth when they wrapped around the body. We also provide geta (Japanese wooden clogs) that guests enjoy walking around the Kanda-Ochanomizu area wearing traditional footwear. We also ask our guests to take off their shoes when they enter their room. Taking off one’s shoes is a common Japanese custom. Room with tatami mat flooring is also typical of a traditional Japanese residence.

In addition, we introduced forms of indirect lighting at many spots to produce a relaxing environment that stands between a hotel and home.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU - Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten host to RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU. Could you tell us about RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU and Executive Chef Masafumi Okubo?

RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU newly opened when Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten refurbished and reopened in 2014.

We seek to disseminate the culture of Japanese tea that is becoming less popular among young people through its RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU. The aim of this restaurant is to offer dining and tea steeped with hospitality. The Tea itself attracts a lot of interest from people abroad and in terms of its nutritional benefits, but widespread use of pet bottles is causing the traditional culture of making Japanese tea in a Kyusu (small teapot) to fade away. In the midst of this trend, we now see a wave of new proposals for enjoying Japanese tea and various awareness-raising campaigns. Fortunately for Ryumeikan, the name Ochanomizu comes from area’s history of providing the Tokugawa shogunate with spring water during the Edo period (1603-1867). As this clearly demonstrates, Ochanomizu is closely associated with tea. We aim to propose a new type of Japanese dining experience by bringing together food and tea, two things Ryumeikan has focused on since it began business.

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU - Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Masafumi Okubo, Executive Chef of RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU

He was appointed as the Executive Chef of RESTAURANT 1899 OCHANOMIZU since the day the restaurant opened for business in 2014. To deliver “dining and Japanese tea steeped with hospitality,” he aims to develop a new type of Japanese cuisine that breaks away from the conventional perception of tea as merely something to drink.

Please tell us about your services and amenities. How could your guests spend time at Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten?

Facilities
- Shower Booth& Library

For those guests who have arrived before check-in, we provide a shower booth to them to freshen up after early morning arrival and prior to late night departure.

Because of the nature of being a small scale hotel as we have only nine guest rooms, most of the time, we are unable to cater to early check-in or late check out requests.

We also provide our small library to our guest to relax at any time during their stay, before check in and after check out.
- Free Washing Machine and Dryer
- Car parking space
- Library
- Free Wi-Fi Internet

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten - The Library

The library is a space for guests to relax outside their rooms. It offers a variety of different books that can help you obtain information about travel and Japanese culture. From the library window, you can take in the sights of modern buildings, roadside maidenhair trees, and pedestrians and cars moving along the streets in the Kanda-Ochanomizu area. You can also help yourself to drinks and sweets. The books on display were selected by hotel staff members.

Amenities, Toiletries, and Services
- Iwata Larkowl Mattress
- MarumotoSeitohShigaraki ceramic bathtub
- Safety box
- Iron and Ironing board
- LED desk light “STROKE”
- Toshiba 40 inches LCD TV
- Wired cable and high-speed wireless access
- CD & DVD Player
- Handy Smartphone
- Air cleaning humidifier
- Imabari Towels
- Mikimoto Cosmetics
- Pelican Soap Co. Ltd., Triple C shampoo & Conditioner and Body Soap
- Turndown service

Complimentary services
- Minibar drinks

Nespresso Coffee Machine, Fresh milk for coffee and tea, Green tea, Black tea, Mineral water, selections of Soft drinks, Fruit juice and beers in the refrigerator,
- Origami and Postcards as well as Postage stamps

Could you tell us about the awards that you have won since you are established in 2014?

- Booking.com - Guest Review Award 2015

- 2015-2018 Michelin Guide - 3Pavilions

- 2017-2018 Trip Advisor - Certificate of Excellence

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten

Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit Tokyo? What is the reason?

The peak travel seasons in Tokyo are autumn (late September to November) and spring (March/April/May). Needless to say that cherry blossom season in spring (late March to early April) is one of the most favorite travel seasons in Japan.

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Sharing wholehearted Japanese hospitality with guests

A hotel is a place for guests to relax and recover from the exhaustion of work or travel. Ryumeikan serves as a gateway for people to experience Japanese elegance and beauty while enjoying gorgeous accommodation, with our staff acting as travel guides for visitors. We place a great emphasis on supporting guests who take an active interest in Japanese culture through their experience at Ryumeikan. Our hotel is a true “town inn”, so instead of providing routine services, we get closer to guests and support their trip by sharing in their experience. Ryumeikan stands as a space that is positioned between a hotel and home. We provide guests from abroad with the opportunity to enjoy Japanese housing spaces, lifestyle, and culture, things they cannot experience merely through sightseeing. We are welcoming our guests wholeheartedly with the mindset that it is the cherished “once in the lifetime” meeting. We are always committed to being genuine, attentive but keeping a low profile, running our establishment as a hotel that carries on the spirit of a traditional town inn.

Thank you Yutaka for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit the website of Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten





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