Japan needs more hotels. With the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Japan becoming increasingly attractive as a holiday destination for tourists, the demand for hotels is constantly rising. Add that on top of Japans shrinking population and you have a problem.
More hotels are needed but there’s not enough staff to man them. The solution to this societal dilemma? Enter Henn-na Hotel. The word Henn-na is a play on words, using a Chinese character that means both strange and change, and strange times means strange changes are required.
Henn-na Hotel labels itself as the first Robot-staffed hotel company. Staffed and run by a mixture of multilingual actroid androids, robotic arm cloakrooms, luggage trollies and interactive smart tablets, Henn-na hotel certainly ticks all the boxes in standing out and being unique from other hotels.
There are a number of real staff to ensure the hotel is running as it should be and to also help with any problems that require a human touch
The first Henn-na hotel was opened in Nagasaki in 2015 with more hotels having since opened in Tokyo (Maihama, Ginza, Nishikasai, Hamamatsucho and Asakusabashi) and Gamagori, with further hotels being planned in Fukuoka, Kyoto and Osaka, as well as the possibility of expanding internationally to Taipei and Shanghai being explored.
The humanoid androids at reception help with checking-in through tablets and then any extra luggage can be stored in the hotels cloak room for extra fees with the help of a large robotic arm, the kind you would expect to see in a car assembly line rather than a hotel lobby.
Features in the hotels include facial recognition room doors (You’ll never have to worry about losing your room key again!), tablets that control your room’s lights and temperature, that also provide wake up calls and weather forecasts during your stay and room service brought to you by robotic trollies. So for those who want to experience Japan’s well-known eccentric and other-worldly side Henn-na hotel is definitely the perfect accommodation for you.
But the overall purpose of Henn-na Hotel is an important issue. Japan is constantly becoming more accessible as a holiday destination for many people, which has seen accommodation demand shoot up. Airbnb has tried to help this demand but with hotel lobbyists pressuring the government to tax Airbnbs the same as hotels and neighbourhood groups trying to stop locals from using their houses as Airbnbs to stop any influx of tourists to their suburban areas, Airbnb alone can’t help Japan’s accommodation problems. More innovative approaches like Henn-na Hotel will certainly be needed.
But for now we can certainly take a step back and appreciate the forward thinking of the project.