Beginning this fall, anime fans will have a new place for pilgrimages.
Media conglomerate Kadokawa will open an anime-themed hotel in October.
The EJ Anime Hotel in Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture, won’t be a huge hotel. As reported by Anime News Network, it will only have 33 rooms.
However, those 33 rooms will be themed around various Kadokawa anime properties. According to the hotel’s website, the first five “collaborations” will be KonoSuba – God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!, A Certain Scientific Railgun T, BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!, and Yuki Yuna Is a Hero.
The hotel’s website, translated roughly into English, states that it features “the idea of staying in your favorite story.”
“We provide a special accommodation experience that allows guests to spend with their favorite works by directing the world view of works such as animation, comics, and games in various forms,” the website adds.
Since the hotel isn’t open yet, it’s unclear what exactly all that means.
Initial photographs of the rooms don’t show anime posters, artwork, figurines, or anything fan-based like that. It looks very high-class and tasteful. Room options include “Superior,” “Universal,” “Deluxe,” and “Old Japanese.”
However, the rooms will feature high-quality projection systems and speakers, so guests can watch anime in style.
The hotel’s restaurant, Tiam, will also offer themed meals.
Even if you can’t book a night in one of the rooms at the hotel, there will be other reasons to pay a visit to the area.
The hotel will be part of Tokorozawa Sakura Town, an entertainment complex which will also include new offices for Kadokawa, according to SoraNews. In June, Time Out mentioned the Kadokawa Musashino Museum, Da Vinci Store, Japan Pavilion and Musashino Reiwa Shrine as other highlights of the new complex.
The Japan Pavilion is designed for a variety of events, including e-sports, music and movie screenings. The Da Vinci Store is a Kadokawa bookstore.
The art, design, and visual culture website Colossal described the museum as a “polyhedron-shaped building” with a granite facade. It is five floors tall, and contains “a garden, art gallery, two museums, and a cafe.” There will also be a giant wall of books.
The building was designed by Kengo Kuma, who also designed the shrine. Personally, I think the exterior of the building bears a passing resemblance to Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
According to reports, the third floor of the museum building features the EJ Anime Museum. EJ stands for “Entertainment Japan.”
Crunchyroll, which streams KonoSuba, Yuki Yuna Is A Hero, and A Certain Scientific Railgun, predicts that it “will be one of the biggest Japanese pop-culture hubs in Tokyo when it fully opens.”
The new hotel will also be in the same town as the scenic natural park known as “Totoro’s Forest.” The forest was the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. According to Google, it’s about five miles from the hotel by car, or about an hour by train with an awkward transfer in the middle.
(It is far from Kasukabe, Saitama, home to both Lucky Star and Crayon Shin-chan.)
Like pretty much everything else, the new hotel and entertainment complex was affected by COVID-19. The In Saitama travel website notes that COVID-19 pushed back the opening from July to November.
According to reports, some parts of the complex opened on Aug. 1. More details about booking a room at the hotel will be available in September.
Rooms will be available for a “soft opening” on Oct. 1, and the hotel will have a grand opening in November.
Other Anime Rooms
Of course, other hotels and resorts have added anime features over the years.
Last year, Japan by Japan found hotels with Kumamon, Naruto, and Hello Kitty-themed rooms. Hello Kitty showed up again at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo. The Tokyo Prince Hotel had special My Hero Academia–decorated rooms for a limited time earlier this year.
These character or show-themed rooms have generally involved adding anime pillows, stuffed dolls, artwork on the walls, special bedding, and so on.
But this is likely the first instance of a hotel where an anime company was involved in the construction of an entire entertainment complex (except for the shrine). Disney does it often, but nobody else.
The high-tech anime viewing feature is also a unique twist on the “anime-themed” room concept.
The hotel is not in a touristic area (yet), but it is not that far from Tokyo. It will be interesting to see how well this hotel does with anime fans, especially in a jittery post-coronavirus world.