Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo’s spring cherry blossoms // © 2013 Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
The nighttime glow around the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is full of information. Against Tokyo’s black sky, twinkling dotted lights stretch beyond the parameters of a panoramic guestroom window. But, adjacent to the distant modern skyline is another source of illumination: horizontal lines of light stacked atop each other and surrounded by exposed tree trunks, revealing abundant foliage and a three-story pagoda.
During the day, the scene at the garden of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is so impressive that tour groups leave the busier parts of the city and head to Bunkyo for a stroll through the 17-acre garden. Some meditate by one of the spring water streams, while others read about the old plants and historic artifacts, including the piece de resistance — the Entsukaku three-story pagoda, which is one of the oldest pagodas in Tokyo and a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan.
Chinzanso, which means “villa on a mountain of camellias,” was acquired by Baron Heitaro Fujita from Japan’s Prince Aritomo Yamagata in 1918. Since 1952, the property has been owned by Fujita Kanko Inc., a leading hospitality company headquartered in Tokyo with 60 properties throughout Japan.
After World War II, the first president of Fujita Kanko decided to make the property available to the public. In 1992, Fujita Kanko built the hotel on the grounds and contracted Four Seasons as a franchisee.
“It was a great advantage for us to be part of Four Seasons and to be the first Four Seasons in Asia,” said Ayumi Sanada, chief manager, public relations for Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. “However, during the past 20 years, many international luxury hotel brands have entered the Japanese market. These days, clients are looking for more than brands — they are looking for experiences.”
As a result, the rebranded property features a unique sense of place, which is apparent from the new rooms to the extended programming — all part of an ongoing $70 million investment for upgrades.
“What Fujita Kanko truly excels at is offering authentic Japanese hospitality and culture,” said Sanada.
Chinzanso has launched three new activities: a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, performed by the hotel’s tea masters in two historic, authentic tea houses on the property; Japanese etiquette and language classes, where guests learn Japanese table manners and other lessons; and a bonsai creation workshop taught by the hotel’s licensed landscape gardener, who has taken care of the Chinzanso garden for the past 30 years. Since most staff members, including the management team, have been with the hotel since its opening, guests should not notice a change in service.
The hotel has also added the rooftop Serenity Garden, a 16,145-square-foot, open-air garden. Overlooking the Tokyo skyline and the botanical garden, the location is an elegant option for the staggering 3,000 weddings held at Chinzanso each year.
“We also renovated some of the guestrooms to create ‘unique view’ bathrooms,” said Sanada. “It is an ultimate luxury to have a chance to enjoy the beauty that each season brings: cherry blossoms in the spring, dancing fireflies in the summer, breathtaking foliage in the fall and 1,000 camellia trees blooming in the snow.”
Tips For Booking a Hotel for the 2020 Olympics
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo may be several years away, but many people are already dreaming of visiting the city during the event. Though the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee has not issued guidelines to the hospitality industry yet, Sanada offers some updates and tips for forward-looking travel agents.
“The whole hospitality industry is preparing to welcome international visitors to Tokyo,” said Sanada. “Many anticipate that demands for the summer of 2020 will exceed any other events that Japan has experienced.”
Luckily, Tokyo currently has more than 300 convention facilities, 96,000 guestrooms and 150,000 restaurants. The city offers a broad range of hotels, from budget to luxury. According to Sanada, agents should not be concerned about the quality of budget hotels because Japanese budget hotels offer quality services.
“This is something that visitors as well as travel agencies can take advantage of,” said Sanada. “We are known for our hospitality. Japanese hoteliers cater to every need that clients have before they even realize what they need. It’s a part of the Japanese tradition and culture. Travel agencies can expect that their agencies and clients will be well taken care of working with Japanese hotels.”
Because Tokyo can meet the needs of a variety of clients, familiarize yourself with the different products available. For luxury clients, there are several reasons to consider Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo.
“It is only five kilometers from our hotel to the main Olympic stadium, 15 minutes by car and 30 minutes by train and walking,” said Sanada. “A subway line that has a stop near our hotel has an extension plan to reach the area where many games will take place, so it will be quite convenient.”