Japan Robot Hotel Chain Launches New Shinkansen Room

Japan Robot Hotel Chain Launches New Shinkansen Room

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Henn Na Hotel - Shinkansen room
Pictures: Henn Na Hotel
Do you like robots? Are you a Shinkansen fan? If so, then Japan's Henn na Hotel in Kyoto may just have the perfect room for you.

One of Japan’s most…quirky hotel chains is always looking for ways to up the quirk factor. The latest move for Henn Na Hotel, Japan’s famous chain “run” by robots, is one that’s sure to please Japanese domestic and inbound tourist railway fans – particularly fans of the Shinkansen, Japan’s much-lauded bullet train service.

Henn Aa Hotel: A strange hotel chain indeed

Henn Na Hotel: Robotic dinosaur check-in "staff"
Picture: Henn Na Hotel

Henn Na Hotel (Japanese: 変なホテル) was opened in 2015, with its first hotel in Nagasaki Prefecture’s city of Sasebo. The idea was hatched by Japanese travel group H.I.S., which continues to run the chain.

Since its humble trial run nine years ago, Henn na Hotel has expanded to 21 hotels as of 2021. Not surprisingly, most of these are in hot tourist areas in the Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara areas, with a few in other tourist spots like Kanazawa, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and even Sendai. The chain also has two international units: one in Seoul’s Myeondong district and one in New York City.

The hotel is famous for branding itself as “the world’s robot hotel”, for which it secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Dinosaurs, robotic women, dolls, and other figures serve as “receptionists” fueling a fully automated check-in process. The chain uses up to 80 robots in a hotel, backed by only a dozen or so human staff.

H.I.S. says this allows them to keep costs down. It definitely works as an advertising ploy, as it plays into Japan’s (somewhat overstated) reputation as technologically cutting-edge and “cyberpunk”.

You might assume this is what makes the hotel “strange” or “weird” (a core meaning of the character 変, hen). However, according to H.I.S., the “hen” relies on the character’s other meaning of “change” or “transformation.” It’s intended to mean the hotel chain and its properties are “always changing.”

Henn na Hotel’s new Shinkansen room is for bullet train fans

Henn Na Hotel - bullet train (Shinkansen) room
Picture: Henn Na Hotel via PRTimes

It’s easy to dismiss H.I.S.’s explanation as marketing bluster. However, the company does seem intent on experimenting with new concepts. And its latest is likely to appeal to the train fans out there.

Advertisements

The Henn na Hotel Kyoto, Hachijoguchiekimae, is already something of a treat for fans of Japan’s Shinkansen, the bullet train that travels around 300km/hour and provides ultra-fast ground transport between major Japanese cities. Several of the hotel’s rooms look on the Shinkansen track, which means guests in those rooms can enjoy watching the trains on the Tokaido line pass through.

The hotel’s decided to go whole hog and convert a handful of those rooms into “Shinkansen-themed” stays. Guests can enjoy resting in a room with bullet train-themed sheets, plushies fashioned after the 500 series cars, and pictures of the 700 and 0 series cars. There’s even a Shinkansen-themed game you can play on the TV.

Lodgers will get a special commemorative Shinkansen key chain as part of their stay. The price of the room also includes a ticket to the Kyoto Railway Museum (京都鉄道博物館), which houses 54 train cars – including everything from steam-powered trains to old bullet train models.

(Sadly, it appears Brad Pitt isn’t included in the deal. Drat.)

But can you book it?

As you’d expect, the Shinkansen rooms are extremely popular, which means availability is limited. Looking on their Web site on March 2nd, I can see rooms are booked out for at least a month. So if you want to stay, make sure you plan ahead.

Rooms currently appear to be going for around 25,700 yen (USD $171) a night for two guests (around 21,000 for a single guest). You can also stay in a non-themed room for only around 14,570 yen ($97) for two. A pretty great deal – though with far less of an Instagram factor.

You can (try and) book your Shinkansen room on Henn na Hotel’s Web site.

Sources

変なホテル京都 八条口駅前「新幹線コラボルーム」発売. PRTimes

変なホテル. Wikipedia JP

“変なホテル”が生産性4倍を実現した理由. President Online

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy